MISSION, Kan. – FOX4 Problem Solvers cameras were rolling at Unleashed Pet Rescue in Mission, Kansas, on Thursday when shelter employees were seen bringing crates full of dogs into the shelter, despite being ordered by the state in March to stop taking in animals.
Sources tell Problem Solvers they suspect the dogs came from a shelter in Springfield, Missouri, though we could not confirm this.
“From our perspective, the shelter has been issued an emergency order to stop taking in animals and should not be bringing them in,” Heather Lansdowne, a spokesperson with the Kansas Department of Agriculture, said.
Lansdowne said a hearing took place on Thursday in which Unleashed Pet Rescue’s attorney appealed the state’s effort to revoke their license.
The shelter also asked the state to rescind the emergency order banning it from taking in animals. But to date, that order is still in effect.
“It will remain in effect until a judge makes a decision,” Lansdowne said.
Danielle Reno’s attorney, Court Kennedy, issued a statement saying the emergency order is illegal because the state could not prove there was an imminent threat to any animals.
Kennedy said if the emergency order is not withdrawn, the shelter will sue the state.
The state said since it issued the emergency order on March 10, it has received seven complaints from residents claiming the shelter is violating the order.
Those who have complained say publicly speaking out against the shelter comes at a price.
“Danielle and Unleashed, it’s their M.O.,” Josie Stambaugh, former volunteer at the shelter, said. “A lot of scare tactics.”
Stambaugh said she has experienced retaliation at the hands of Reno, current employees and supporters of the shelter.
“It’s like these people are unhinged, honestly,” she said.
She said some supporters have threatened to make false reports against her small business, a salon in Olathe, Kansas.
She also said many of these threats have been posted on private Facebook groups, which FOX4 obtained screenshots of.
One commenter can be seen threatening to report Stambaugh’s salon for lice, but acknowledges the claim is made up.
Stambaugh said another current employee at the shelter submitted a negative Google review against her business.
When she confronted the employee about the matter, Stambaugh claims the employee apologized and deleted the fake review.
“I just emailed the Kansas State Board of Cosmetology with the screenshot,” she said. “I let them know I’m an informant with the Department of Agriculture, “I just want you to be aware that this is the situation, this is retaliation. My doors are always open for an inspection.”
The unloading of new dogs on Thursday at the shelter is not the first time Problem Solvers received reports of Unleashed Pet Rescue violating the emergency order.
In early April, an employee with another animal shelter, who asked not to be identified, told FOX4 she went to Wichita to pick up dogs brought in from Texas.
The employee noticed an Unleashed Pet Rescue animal transport van also on scene putting dogs in their van.
The employee said she immediately texted her manager, who instructed the employee to take photographs of the Unleashed van, and advised her to submit the photos to the state.
“She has no regard for the law,” Stambaugh said. “She thinks she’s above the law.”
Reno has insisted in the past that complaints made against the shelter have no merit and come from disgruntled former employees and volunteers.
Problem Solvers will update you as we learn more.