Gateway Pet Guardians has volunteers working with East St. Louis community members every single weekend. Our goal is to provide residents with the resources they need to be informed, responsible pet owners. We provide doghouses, straw, spay/neuter services, and heavy-duty tie-outs. Most residents we work with are low-income and struggle to afford food for their animals. When this happens, we are happy to share information about Bi-State Pet Food Pantry, a nonprofit pet food pantry serving the Greater St. Louis area. Bi-State’s mission is to keep animals and their guardians together during financially difficult times by providing emergency assistance with pet food.
During outreach, we hand out Bi-State’s application and explain to residents that a resource is available to help. Bi-State requires recipients to have their pets spayed or neutered before receiving services, so GPG works with community members to schedule and transport dogs to their surgeries to make them eligible. Once eligible, recipients travel to St. Louis once a month to receive a month’s supply of dog food for their animals, at no cost. All food at the pantry is donated or purchased through monetary donations.
Gateway Pet Guardians is very proud of the relationship we have built with Bi-State Pet Food Pantry. According to Jacqui Zancanata, Bi-State’s President, “Our missions overlap because we both work through outreach and education to keep pets happy and healthy in their homes by providing support to the owners during difficult times. Keeping pets and people together, off the streets, and out of shelters are foundations for both organizations.”
And for GPG, Bi-State’s role is much more than providing food and resources. It also serves as an incentive for residents to spay and neuter their animals. Natalie Creamer, GPG’s Outreach Program Lead, reflects: “Once residents learn that help is available, and the only step needed is to spay or neuter their pets, they are much more open to the surgery. We have a Spay/Neuter Program that offers the surgery for free to residents, as well as transportation to and from the facility. Spay/neuter is the ticket to overcoming animal overpopulation in our target area.”
It takes a village to battle animal homelessness, and we are proud of our partnership with Bi-State Pet Food Pantry. Providing resources to keep animals in their homes is the key to success for both organizations, and together we can make the Metro East a happier, healthier place for humans and their beloved pets alike.