To form a no-kill coalition for companion animals within our community by educating the public, providing responsible pet owner services, and finding great adopters for the homeless pets in our care.
Since 1999, The Pet Connection has found homes for more than 7,000 animals and rehabilitated hundreds of dogs and cats with aggression, fear and anxiety issues. We have spayed or neutered over 8,000 dogs and cats in our own free and low-cost clinics since 2002 and assisted another 5,800 pets with low-cost services since 2006. The Pet Connection was founded in 1999 in Mission, Kansas, to offer shelter for homeless pets, adoptions and training. We were one of the first no-kill advocacy groups in the Kansas City metro area and the first cage-free facility in Johnson County to offer education about available spay and neuter programs. In 2006, The Pet Connection relocated to a facility in Mission that enabled all dogs and cats to have their own rooms while awaiting adoptive homes or being rehabilitated due to behaviors that hindered adoption prospects. The Pet Connection currently focuses on pet adoptions, dog and cat training, aggressive dog rehabilitation, and classes for pet owners. We were the first in this area to offer free training/behavior classes to adopters. The Pet Connection has always been committed to being no-kill advocates. We have been involved in many projects with local and national organizations to help Kansas City progress in how homeless pets are cared for and to improve the services that they receive. Our organization is a 501c3 charity in the state of Kansas, and has always provided thousands of dollars worth of supplies, including cat litter, food, toys, beds and dog houses, to other rescues and shelters.
Jason and Melody Huff are two of the key people behind The Pet Connection story. They have a combined 45 years of experience in positive-reinforcement dog training and shelter management. In 2013, after spending 11 years in the Kansas City metro area running The Pet Connection (“TPC”) as a shelter, a rescue organization, and a spay/neuter clinic, while also providing positive-reinforcement dog training classes and handling, they moved to Beloit, Kansas and opened TPC’s sanctuary.
“The sanctuary is an amazing place that I dreamed about as a kid,” said Melody. That dream came to fruition in the fall of 2013 and continues to develop along with the sanctuary. Throughout the years, more structures, play yards, landscaping, and other features have been added to the sanctuary to expand its capabilities and further benefit the animals in its program.
The move became a necessity for Melody due to a long-standing back injury. She needed a way of life in a more rural setting where she would be allowed to live on site with the pets that she cared for daily. “I had injured my back and was in constant pain,” she said. “I had to downsize our big Pet Connection operation and think smaller. We placed all the adoptables and were left with a handful of elderly, medical, and behavioral dogs and cats.”
For nearly a year, most of these pets lived with the Huffs in their home in Olathe. Unleashed Pet Rescue took care of the remaining dogs that could not go to foster due to the limited number of available foster homes and number of animals allowed in each home. Jason moved to Beloit in August, and Melody followed in November with two kids, and 20 “lifer” resident dogs and cats.
The TPC sanctuary sits on 4 acres. Unlike other “board and train” facilities or rescues, Melody and Jason live on the sanctuary premises with the animals and truly provide “around the clock” care for them. The approximately 4000 square foot, two-story building at the front of the property houses Jason, Melody and most of the animals. Jason and Melody’s living space is upstairs, which includes an interior window in their bedroom that allows visibility to the main living area downstairs where most of the dogs live.
Jason designed, organized, and built the entire sanctuary project, with some assistance, mostly from volunteers. This included moving large amounts of dirt, putting in specs for floor heating, and tackling electrical and plumbing work. Truckloads of dirt were hauled in to level off the land to create better drainage. One hundred trees were planted to give both dogs and humans long-term shade and wind break. Outdoor exercise/play yards were constructed. Most recently, TPC erected a barn designed to house dogs and cats. The barn allows TPC’s semi-feral cat population to have indoor/outdoor access. It also has office space, which doubles as private cat rooms, and an indoor “catio” for integration. The barn created a much needed training space for classes, storage for supplies, and a large event space. It also has an apartment for visitors, and its own dog yard.
At the sanctuary, TPC concentrates its efforts on the most behaviorally challenged dogs, teaching them with a positive-reinforcement approach. The sanctuary provides a smaller, more intimate setting than most animal shelters. Depending on the individual dog, training may last anywhere from two weeks to five months before a dog is returned to its owners, rescue, or shelter. Every dog is returned with specific instructions for reintroduction and with permanent support from TPC.
TPC also permanently houses its “lifers,” which, as of 2019, includes 12 dogs and seven cats who have permanent and/or severe medical or behavioral issues that make them unlikely to be adopted. TPC also provides scholarship funds to shelter and rescue dogs in its program, and uses donations to support its lifers and those dogs coming from city shelters or rescues that do not have the funds to pay the full cost of their board and train.