Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Pitch's Questionnaire with Kansas City Pet Project executive director Teresa Johnson

Meet Teresa Johnson, executive director of the Kansas City Animal Shelter.

Posted By on Wed, May 8, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Teresa Johnson
  • Teresa Johnson
Name: Teresa Johnson

Occupation: Executive director and chief lifesaving officer at the Kansas City Pet Project. My organization operates the largest and only open-admission animal shelter in Kansas City, which includes the KCMO Animal Shelter (behind the stadiums on Raytown Road) and a new Pet Adoption Center in Zona Rosa. We are committed to operating Kansas City's animal shelter as a no-kill facility.

Hometown: Columbia, Missouri

Current neighborhood: Near Mill Creek Streamway Park, in Lenexa

Who or what is your sidekick? My dog, Oscar. He's an 8-year-old Sheltie-Pekingese mix that I adopted from a local shelter. He's totally devoted to me and never leaves my side when I'm at home.

What career would you choose in an alternate reality? I would be a doctor in an ER trauma center. I love organized chaos - fast-paced, long, crazy days are my thing!

What was the last local restaurant you patronized? The veggie burger at Houston's is absolutely the best.

Where do you drink? A glass of wine when I get home makes me happy right now.

What's your favorite charity? The Kansas City Pet Project, of course! We are the animal shelter for the city of Kansas City and care for nearly 8,000 lost and homeless pets a year. Even pets with severe injuries or illnesses, or innocent victims of cruelty or neglect that are brought in by animal control. We're the safety net for animals in Kansas City.

Favorite place to spend your paycheck: I love Stuff in Brookside. I can't go in that store without buying a new piece of unique jewelry.

What local phenomenon do you think is overrated? Barbecue in Kansas City. This is coming from someone who has been a strict vegetarian for many years. But I love a good sauce!

Where do you like to take out-of-town guests? Shawnee Mission Park, the farmers market in downtown Overland Park, and, of course, the Plaza.

Finish this sentence: "Kansas City got it right when ... " It lowered the city licensing fees for pets and implemented the "Free Ride Home" program. Lost pets found with current city tags are eligible for a free ride home from Animal Control, which keeps them from having to come to the shelter.

"KC screwed up when it ... " Began talking about needing light rail and a new airport. Those are "nice to haves" at a time when critical improvements are needed all over the city.

"KC needs ... " A new animal shelter. The existing shelter was built in 1972. It's old, outdated, institutional, and not nearly large enough to care humanely for the number of needy animals in our community. Citizens of Kansas City, Missouri, should be demanding a modern animal shelter be included in the 2014 budget.

"People might be surprised to know that I ... " Have one dog and one cat. Most people think you have lots of pets if you work in animal welfare. I see 300-plus animals every day at work.

What is your most embarrassing dating moment? I haven't been "on a date" in a long time. I can guarantee I've had embarrassing moments, but I spent a lot of time in therapy blocking those memories.

"On my day off, I like to ... " Jump in my jeep, crank up the radio and drive my dog, Oscar, over to Wendy's for an egg sandwich. He knows when it's Saturday morning and he can hardly wait to go!

"In five years, I'll be ... " Better at golf. I'm one of those people who signs up for lessons for everything. Unfortunately, I never have any free time to pursue those interests.

What TV show do you make sure you watch? The Walking Dead. Most recently, I've been downloading all the episodes of Homeland, and I'm totally hooked.

____ take up a lot of space in my iTunes: Lots of hard-rock tunes. I'm a big fan of Southern rock, including my extensive collection from the Allman Brothers.

What movie do you watch at least once a year? Every Halloween, I make homemade pumpkin soup and watch George Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead. Classic horror is the best.

What local tradition do you take part in every year? Seeing the Plaza lights during Christmas. It's not officially the holiday season without it.

Celebrity you'd like to ride the Mamba with at Worlds of Fun: Hillary Clinton. We'd bond over funnel cakes, and I'd encourage her to run for president in 2016.

Favorite person or thing to follow on Twitter: Simon Sinek. "It's not what you do; it's why you do it."

Person or thing you find really irritating at this moment: This weather. Winter has lasted way too long this year. I'm ready for a long stretch of warm, sunny days.

What subscription do you value most? KC Spaces magazine. It's beautiful, informative and inspires me to try new decorating ideas.

Last book you read: Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Favorite day trip: Back to Columbia for a walk through campus. I'm a Mizzou gal.

Interesting brush with the law? Does my parking ticket received downtown while in a meeting with the mayor count?

Describe a recent triumph: Running the KCMO Animal Shelter as a no-kill facility! It has never been done before in the history of this city. Opening a second Pet Adoption Center in Zona Rosa the first year of our operation has also literally been a lifesaver for us and has helped us find new homes for more than 425 dogs and cats in just the past four months from that location alone. Overall, we found homes or other placement for nearly 6,000 animals in 2012, and adoptions are up 35 percent over the same period last year. We are committed to creating a no-kill Kansas City!

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