Gateway Pet Guardians offers a Community Hotline to residents in East St. Louis, Illinois and closely surrounding areas. Families can call a Google Voice number (314-399-9738) and leave a voicemail. The Gateway Pet Guardians team responds, connecting families with supplies, services and resources to help them care for their pets.
From 2015-2019, we have responded to 3,961 calls on the hotline. It is interesting to note that the amount of calls almost doubled from 2018 to 2019 as our name and the hotline number has become circulated throughout the community.
The majority of calls that come in are from families requesting services, such as doghouses, tie-outs, collars, leashes, and general pet wellness. We can break down our 2019 call log and look at the types of calls coming in. 50.9% of all calls fell within this category, and 7.3% of calls specifically requested spay/neuter services.
Additionally, 11.3% of calls were from owners intending to surrender their pets for a variety of reasons, and 10.3% of calls were stray reports from residents that encountered lost pets. Volunteer Hotline Assistants that field these calls provide counsel, suggesting resources for families to keep their pets and advice to residents to seek out the owners of stray animals. In fact, this is Kimmy Nasti’s favorite part of working the hotline. “Helping families keep their pets in their homes is my favorite part of this work.”
Finally, 3.6% of calls were A/C type (typically humane care concerns), 3.1% were lost pet reports, and 3.8% were requesting emergency services. So far in 2020, we have fielded 428 calls with a very similar breakdown.
87.8% of all calls fielded in 2019 were from families within our service area of the East Side Pet District, which includes East St. Louis, Cahokia, Centreville, Alorton, Washington Park and Fairmont City. 6.3% were from other areas in Illinois, and 5.9% were families from Missouri requesting services. If a family lives outside of our service area, we work to connect them with resources that serve families in their location. Brittnee Curlett notes, “My favorite part of the hotline is just knowing our community members, and even those outside our area, have a number to call and people who will listen and hear them. We may not be able to do everything but at least we can be a listening ear to their needs. Most are just appreciative to actually receive a call back.”
Our hotline number is shared with the East St. Louis community in a variety of ways. Through community outreach, volunteers go door to door and provide flyers and cards with our number. We host and participate in community events to spread awareness and post advertisements in our local newspaper to get the word out.
Our team of four volunteer Community Hotline Assistants field every call that comes in on our hotline, forwarding calls to connect families with appropriate resources and providing suggestions and advice whenever possible. Every member of the hotline team has volunteered with Gateway Pet Guardians for 5+ years and are heavily ingrained in our mission of supporting people and pets in the East St. Louis community. They spend 10-15 hours per week on a rotating weekly basis monitoring, fielding, and responding to calls to make sure families are able to access the resources they need. Those who have called the hotline now have a chance to see these incredible volunteers on the other end of the line!
The Community Hotline has had a tremendous impact on the Metro East community. Hotline Assistant Shanda Cuccio notes, “I love working the community hotline because it gives me an opportunity to connect with people that I might not otherwise have the opportunity to know.” Natalie Creamer elaborates, “I just love talking to people–young and old–about their love for their animals. Hearing stories about how spoiled they are, how mischievous they are, etc!”
We are proud to be able to offer the Community Hotline as a service to the Metro East community, and are thankful to have a team of volunteers eager to connect families with services and support they need. The Community Hotline is just one of the programs we provide to the community. Click here to learn more about our community programming, and consider making a donation to support these services today!