Years ago, packs of stray dogs were a part of the landscape in the Metro East. But after years of community programming, we rarely see packs of dogs. Spay/neuter initiatives and support to pet parents have helped tackle the issue of animal homelessness. Now, we might see a dog here and there, but they rarely travel in packs. And the dogs that we do see are generally owned by families we work with.

We field dozens of calls from people concerned about individual stray dogs, and most people’s gut reaction is to pick the dog up and take it to the local animal control facility. However, in the Metro East, this can be a huge disservice to both the dog and its family. County Animal control is 10-15 miles from East St. Louis, making it difficult for families to retrieve their beloved pet because of financial constraints, transportation issues, and facility hours. Instead, Gateway Pet Guardians is working to implement programming to support pet owners in the field and avoid intake altogether.

For example, last week, we received a call about two stray dogs. Intake, Diversion, and Networking Manager Sara Cordevant responded to the call and assessed the situation. She approached the dogs and noticed they were friendly and healthy, and they allowed her to scan them with a universal microchip scanner. Bingo–the scanner found a chip! She immediately called the microchip company, and it was registered to an owner. She quickly worked to return the dogs home. Their names were Ruby and Pebbles.

“They were just right down the road from their house, within walking distance,” said Cordevant. “Microchips make it so much easier to reunite animals with their owners. They keep animals out of an already crowded facility and save time and resources when we can reunite animals in the field.”

Ruby and Pebbles

The two dogs had actually been microchipped by St. Clair County Animal Services, and because of this, they avoided an unnecessary visit to the facility. And in the process, we were able to start a relationship with the family to offer additional services. They signed their four pets up for free spay/neuter services, where they will also receive vaccines, microchips (for those not already chipped), a nail trim, and dewormer. Cordevant says, “Ruby and Pebbles have both had multiple litters, but now they won’t have to have anymore because of the free services we offer to the community. We can also help keep the dogs contained so that they are not running at large, getting injured etc.”

We are so thankful for this happy ending, and excited to help this family access resources for their pets. Learn more about our community programming, and please consider donating to support our mission of ending animal homelessness in the Metro East!