Outreach, Kansas City-Style by Amy
March 9, 2009, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Executive Director | Tags: , , ,

Wolf enjoys his new toy

One of the many things I love about my job is getting to visit other spay/neuter clinics.  Talking about strategies to target the animals most in need is always energizing and inspiring.  This weekend, I traveled to Kansas City on a college tour, trying to help my little sister, who is a high school senior, determine where she will spend the next four years.  Happily, I was also able to squeeze in a visit to Spay Neuter Kansas City on one of their “Outreach Days.”

After a brief but thorough orientation, they put us into groups of four and we drove to one of Kansas City’s poorest neighborhoods.  We divided the neighborhood by streets and went door to door, offering free and reduced-cost spay/neuter, shots and other necessities like dog houses, collars and tie outs to replace the heavy chains and pad-locks worn by many of the dogs in the neighborhood.  Almost every person we talked to was incredibly grateful for our presence and the services provided by SNKC.

One gentleman we talked to called the surprise visit a “blessing” and agreed to spay and neuter his three pit bull puppies this week.  Another gentleman quickly agreed to have two of his dogs neutered and invited us into his backyard to show them off.  Two of the dogs were living on heavy chains, with padlocked chain collars, but he instantly agreed to switch them out when we offered a more humane alternative.  Despite the living conditions, it was clear to me that he cared about his dogs a great deal, and was eager for more information about how to make their lives better.

This experience was a powerful reminder to me that most pet owners love their pets very much, and sometimes, all they need is a little help and education to do the right thing for their pets.   It also highlighted for me how important it is to be proactive about reaching out to people whose pets are most at-risk for homelessness and euthanasia.  It is not always enough to make spay/neuter available for those who will seek it out.  Sometimes, we have to bring the services right to people’s doorsteps.

This SNKC staffer signs a pit up for s/n

The City of Austin has taken some early steps towards creating something like this in our own community.  For the last few weeks, Animal Control Officers and staff from Town Lake Animal Center have gone door to door in a low-income neighborhood in Austin offering free spay/neuter at EMANCIPE+ in addition to other services, like fencing assistance.  Many people have taken them up on the offer despite the fact that our mobile clinic regularly offers free surgery in this neighborhood.  In just a short time, we have spayed or neutered almost 30 dogs through this program, most of those pit bulls, which are one of our “target breeds.”

While this program is still in a pilot phase, I think it is a great start towards reaching out to those pet owners who are unlikely to ever seek out our free or low-cost spay/neuter program, and has the potential to improve the quality of life of dogs living in substandard conditions in Austin.  I would love to see this program grow and become a valuable part of our own strategy for reducing intake at our city shelter, and I would love to tell our friends at Spay Neuter Kansas City how they have inspired us to do more for the animals most in need in our community.


1 Comment so far
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great post-it is good to be reminded that people do care, and the best thing we can do is offer knowledge 🙂

Comment by Kristen Kjellberg

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