Today, we celebrate the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. and his push for racial equality in the United States. Individuals and groups around the region embrace the holiday as an opportunity to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background. Many honor this day by giving back to the community, keeping King’s spirit alive and pushing for a more inclusive, welcoming community for all. It is in this spirit that volunteers and staff with Gateway Pet Guardians (GPG) hit the pavement, walking door to door and offering free services for families with pets in the Metro East St. Louis community.

East St. Louis has no veterinary clinics and limited opportunities for pet owners to access pet supplies. GPG strives to overcome this disconnect by providing free pet resources, including spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, microchips, and pet supplies. “Many residents don’t have the transportation or the funds to afford services for their pets, so we bring that resource to them for free,” said Janet Alderson, Community Director. “Everyone has the right to have the love of a pet, and sometimes you need a few resources to make that happen. We are happy to supply that.”

A recent podcast published by national leader Animal Farm Foundation, Inc. sheds light on classism in animal welfare, emphasizing the importance of GPG’s work within the Metro East community. In “Are We Loving Shelter Animals To Death,” Arin Greenwood challenges the animal welfare industry to empower families to save lives of companion animals instead of seeking reasons to prevent families from adopting. She argues that our desire to protect animals from potential cruelty blinds us from seeing the good in families. The belief that people are good, and want to love and protect companion animals despite obstacles and hardships they might face guides GPG’s work in the Metro East community.

The mission of the Gateway Pet Guardians Community Outreach Program is to arm pet owners in the Metro East with the resources they need to provide their pet(s) with a long, happy and healthy life. GPG serves residents in zip codes 62201, 62203, 62204, 62205, 62206, and 62207. Residents within this service area interested in resources can call (314) 399-9738.