OSWEGO — The building that once housed the Oswego hospital is for sale and the feline rescue operating there has closed.
Hannah’s Hope Feline Rescue began operations last year at 402 Ohio. The building, sold by Davis Real Estate, is for sale at $147,000. It was originally listed at $161,500.
“We have stopped operating as a shelter in this location,” said Michelle Bradley, founder of Hannah’s Hope Feline Rescue.
She found homes for the cats that were at the facility.
“We’ve worked really, really hard and we have found some amazing partner shelters and rescue groups here in Kansas as well as Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado,” she said.
Bradley said selling the building will help recoup some of the money to find another location — not in Labette County — to house Hannah’s Hope Feline Rescue. She said she hopes to move somewhere in the four-state area because there’s such a large need and not a lot of shelters.
“There’s a huge issue with finding homes for stray cats and kittens that are born because people’s pets aren’t being spayed or neutered,” she said.
In the meantime, Bradley said, she continues to take phone calls from people about cats and helps them find other shelters or resources.
“We have done a lot of referrals to Paw Prints On The Heartland,” she said. It is located in Pittsburg.
Remaining now are 15 cats, mostly older cats, personal ones of Bradley and cats with medical issues. The Kansas Pet Animal Act defines a shelter as a facility housing more than 20 pets.
At one time, there were over 100 cats at the Hannah’s Hope. Bradley had until Dec. 23, with an extension to Dec. 31, to reduce the number of animals to under 20.
She said if individuals wish to open their homes to a senior cat or a cat with disabilities, that would be great. She said interested people can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In September, the Oswego City Council denied a conditional use permit to the organization. There were two inspections made by the state. A police officer accompanied the inspectors both times, Bradley said. She said other shelters in the area have never had law enforcement attend an inspection based on conversations she’s had with personnel from other shelters.
The state did not approve the license for Hannah’s Hope.
“When a new business wants to operate as a rescue or shelter, they must be licensed to demonstrate that they are operating under the laws set down in the Kansas Pet Animal Act, which protect the health and welfare of the animals under their care,” Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) officials said in an emailed statement to the Sun. “KDA works with these new businesses to clarify for them the statutes and regulations that they must comply with in order to be licensed. These were outlined over the course of several conversations with the owner of Hannah’s Hope Feline Rescue, yet during the licensing inspection process, the facility fell far short of meeting the requirements for licensure, both in the number of violations and in the severity of the violations. In particular, the facility did not meet the standards for sanitation, ventilation, housing practices and record-keeping regarding veterinary care which are laid out in the Pet Animal Act.”
Since then, Bradley filed a complaint against Dr. Sasha Thomason of the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health. Bradley also said she is investigating her options in terms of violations of the Kansas Tort Claims Act.
KDA officials said they are aware of Bradley’s complaint against Thomason.
“We understand that Dr. Thomason is following all of the appropriate response requirements,” KDA officials said in the emailed statement.
A KDA inspection report from September said black mold was discovered in the upstairs area and west wing of the building. Bradley said once the mold was found, she hired an inspector to check and remove it. There were two spots of black mold found, and the black mold was immediately cut out, destroyed and sprayed, so that is gone now, she said. Otherwise, any mold spores found were tracked in from people, the inspector said.
“The spores were never in the air samples,” Bradley said.
Bradley claims the state and city of Oswego colluded and worked against her as she set up the animal shelter.
“We have repeatedly over and over tried to do the right thing,” she said. “And have just been met with dishonesty and roadblocks and misinformation.
“There have been people in this town and I believe it was in cooperation with city government to do everything they could to promote ill will,” Bradley added.
Oswego Mayor Dan Chapman did not want to publicly comment on the issue.
As for the state, KDA officials said: “The only communication that the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Animal Facilities Inspection Program has had with the city of Oswego was to confirm whether the facility was licensed. KDA initially received an inquiry regarding whether the rescue had a current license; they did not. At that time, KDA looked at public information on the city of Oswego’s website to learn more about the operation from the meeting details including the statements published there; those statements indicated they were operating without a license, so we reached out to the business at that time.”
Bradley said Hannah’s Hope Feline Rescue just wanted to provide a service that was needed in the community. She said she doesn’t regret doing this but wouldn’t wish the experience on anybody.
“I’m proud of how many cats we were able to take in, take care of and find homes for,” she said.
For Bradley, the No. 1 goal was to get the cats to safe homes. They are happy and healthy, she said, and Bradley did not want the cats to be euthanized or released into farmlands to potentially be harmed by wildlife.
The cats have gone to local residents, shelters and other groups in the Midwest. In Kansas, the Lawrence Humane Society, Prairie Paws and Perfect Pets took in some cats. Wayside Waifs in Missouri also took cats. The Oklahoma Humane Society also helped, Bradley said. Operation Kindness based in Texas also assisted. And in Colorado, Trevor’s Animal Rescue, Front Range Freedom Rescue, Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue, Sloppy Kisses Animal Rescue, Cooper’s Companions Animal Rescue and Red Fern Animal Rescue all took in cats.
“They are all foster-based rescues so the cats will be in homes while they wait for their forever families,” Bradley said.
With the snowstorm in the area around Christmas, Bradley said she received many calls from residents asking for help with stray cats to keep them out of the cold. Bradley said it’s been difficult not being able to assist these animals.
She still gets calls several times a week.
Bradley said she plans to visit Topeka in the near future and has been talking to animal/cat advocates.
She is now waiting for the state to complete its final inspection/walk-through of the facility to verify the facility houses fewer than 20 animals.
“We’re just kind of in a holding pattern waiting for the state,” Bradley said.