Wichita rescue on proposed pet bill: 'Do I want to afford state fees or do I want to save more animals?'

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) - A proposed bill relating to the Kansas pet animal act has some people and numerous organizations concerned.

House Bill 2477 would amend the pet animal act by updating license and permit fee amounts. It would also change the annual expiration dates for pet animal act licenses and permits.

One of the proposed fee increases would be for licensed fosters. Right now a foster must pay $10 annually to be licensed. Under the proposed bill, a foster would have to pay $30 annually to obtain a license.

Wichita Animal Action League (WAAL), a Wichita animal rescue, would be directly affected by the price change if the bill passes.

"WAAL rescues actually pays the licensing fees for all of our fosters," said WAAL President Sarah Coffman. "So in September we re-licensed 49 foster homes for the amount of $490. If it was to go up to $30, now we are paying almost $1,500 to re-license somebody for a year."

WAAL, like many rescues, spend a large amount of money to keep animals off the streets and adopt them from local animal shelters. Coffman said a big chunk of her nonprofit's money goes toward vet bills for many of the animals they save. She said the proposed fee increase could negatively impact the group's save rate.

"Animal control will get an animal in that's injured and they can't afford those vet bills so WAAL will step in and pay those vet bills. I might be left with a decision, do I want to pay a vet bill for an injured animal or do I want to pay a licensing fee for 49 fosters? If i can't pay both of those then an animal may get euthanized because now I can't afford it," Coffman said.

According to the Kansas Department of Agriculture, enactment of HB 2477 would result in additional revenues of $167,585 and additional expenditures of $77,868, for a net increase to agency fee fund revenues of $89,717.

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Agriculture said the additional money would go toward oversight, licensing expenses, among other things.

"It's important for us that the state is protecting both the animals that are living within these facilities and the people who are working with the programs so that everyone is held to an appropriate standard of cleanliness, safety and being able to keep that process going protects all of the businesses as well as all of the people and the animals," said Department of Agriculture Communications Director Heather Lansdowne.

During a hearing on Tuesday, several proponents and opponents of the proposed bill gave testimonials.

The Kansas Pet Professionals wrote in its testimonial in part, "We know firsthand the importance of an inspection program. It keeps the breeders, pet stores, shelters and fosters in compliance with state laws..."

HB 2477 is currently in a house committee.

View full testimonials here:

Steve Hitchcock, Gov Affairs, KFAO

Amy Heggestad, Beauties and Beasts, Inc.

Crystal Swann Blackdeer, Leavenworth County Humane Society, Inc.

Jennifer Burns, Animal Control Officer, Kansas Animal Control Association

Jessica Sherwood, K-9 Karma Animal Advocates Inc.

Justin Brokar, Director of Community Engagement and Development Helping Hands humane Society, Inc.

Katie Barnett, Animal Welfare Counsel, Lawrence Humane Society

Kelly Kultala, Executive Director, Humane Society Legislative Fund of Kansas

Kimberly Puglies, Board Member, Beauties and Beasts, Inc.

Midge Ginstead, KS Senior Director, Humane Society of the United States

Randi Carter, Owner, All Dogs Bark N Play, Board Member, Beauties and Beasts, Inc.

Rashann Southard, President, Hands of Hope Rescue

Sarah Coffman, Founder, Wichita Animal Action League

Tony Wenger, Kansas K-9 ResQ, Inc.

Josh Roe, Asst Secretary, Kansas Department of Agriculture

Megan Kilgore, Kansas Veterinary Medical Association

Michelle Russell, Kansas Pet Professionals

Tucker Stewart, Associate Counsel, Kansas Livestock Association

Tara Dillow 

Staci William, Petland, Topeka

Sara Meyer, Owner, BJs & Guys LLC

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