The numbers are in. In 2015, Gateway Pet Guardians’ Spay/Neuter Program sterilized 88 dogs and 97 cats for residents in the East St. Louis community. We sterilized 185 animals total, and helped 91 families in the process. We’ve spent years battling the overpopulation of stray and unwanted animals in East St. Louis, but our Spay/Neuter Program might be the ticket to truly ending animal homelessness. Without spay/neuter, both owned and stray animals will continue to produce offspring, continuing the vicious cycle that makes rescue work necessary.
Deanna Sanvi, GPG’s Spay/Neuter Coordinator, says the program’s success is the result of several key factors. For one, our strong partnerships with Carol House Quick Fix Pet Clinic and Hillside Animal Hospital have enabled us to help more pets than ever before. Deanna works with community members to schedule appointments, and volunteers transport the family pets to their surgeries and back home again.
Sanvi also attributes the success to a core group of outreach leads that are in the community several times a week, developing relationships and building trust with families. In fact, it’s this relationship with the community that she says is the most rewarding part of our work. “In rescue, the bad people take the spotlight and sometimes one forgets that there are a lot of good people out there. Good people usually do good things when they have the resources and information to do so. Animals can’t call me up to request I spay them, it’s up to their people to make those decisions. So I work with the people.”
The pet owners that we help have also been a big factor in our success. When you provide a resource, and you come through on your promises, word gets around – and word of mouth is our best referral source. Sanvi elaborates, “We’ve had several extended families where we’ve fixed 10+ pets between all the households. We also have several blocks where we’ve fixed every pet on that block. One person sends us to the next person and so on. I have to believe that by working with PEOPLE, we are making a dent in the stray and neglected ANIMAL population in this area.”
What’s next? Gateway Pet Guardians has set a goal of getting 100 dogs and 100 cats fixed in 2016. The program is working on several ideas to increase efficiency, including improving scheduling logistics with our spay/neuter partners. Our biggest barrier right now is transportation, because we currently rely solely on volunteers transporting 1 or 2 pets at a time. Our dream is to have a large transport van to increase efficiency and save our volunteers’ time and gas money.