County amending animal shelter rules to match state

By: 
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

The Warren County government is seeking to reduce red tape on animal shelters by making state regulations the main rules they have to contend with.

The county’s planning and zoning board met in May to review a change that would sync local requirements for shelters and kennels with those published by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. That would mean animal shelters only need to keep track of one set of rules, something a local nonprofit is pushing for prior to constructing a long-awaited shelter in rural Warren County. The state regulations include extensive requirements for how shelters and kennels are to be structured and operated.

Previously, Warren County had its own set of rules and definitions for different types of shelter operations, which didn’t match cleanly with the state’s. Nonprofit Concerned Citizens for Animal Care, which has been fundraising to build a shelter for two decades, petitioned the county to match state rules so there’s a clear set of expectations, county officials said.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Vickie Vohsen said the change will also eliminate redundant enforcement and inspections at facilities that are already monitored by a state agency. 

“They need to be licensed by the state and need to be monitored by them also,” Vohsen commented. With the county and state rules matched up, any concerns about mismanagement at a shelter can be passed on to the Department of Agriculture for any necessary enforcement, she said.

The county’s planning and zoning board unanimously recommended adopting the state’s regulations for animal shelters and kennels. The change will go to the Warren County Commission for final approval.

Still in violation

The one thing that the rules overhaul won’t change is that operating an animal shelter requires a conditional use permit (CUP) from the county. A CUP can come with additional requirements based on a specific location, such as setbacks or sound barriers for a shelter near houses. A CUP can’t contradict state regulations, but it can add extra requirements, said County Attorney Mark Vincent.

Vincent said the idea of doing away with CUP requirements had been floated, but that county leaders were in favor of keeping them. Members of the advisory planning board agreed, saying the county should retain at least a little authority.

“If we don’t do something with a CUP, we’d have no control over anything,” observed planning board member Alan Weber.

That leaves one local animal shelter in a difficult spot. The only operating shelter in rural Warren County is also the only unsanctioned animal shelter in rural Warren County. No Time To Spare Animal Rescue, located south of Pendleton, has been facing court charges since 2020 for operating without a CUP.

Vincent said he couldn’t comment about the specific case against the shelter because it’s in the midst of litigation managed by Prosecuting Attorney Kelly King. However, Vincent commented that the CUP requirement applies to any shelter that doesn’t yet have a CUP, even if that shelter is already compliant with all other state regulations.

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