These are definitely trying and uncertain times we are facing right now.  Covid-19 has thrown our entire world upside down in a matter of a few months and our country in a matter of weeks.  My heart weeps daily for every one of my fellow men, women and children during this pandemic.  

Fortunately, Gateway Pet Guardians leadership is experienced in navigating change and crisis which has helped alleviate some of the pain associated with pivoting within days.  Each day is a crisis in our industry as we work to end the needless death of animals in our community. Our work is never done. And, there isn’t a day that we can hang up our hat and say “all finished!” 

So when Covid-19 began to put real pressure on our local community, our staff and volunteers jumped into action to put strategy into place immediately.  I am incredibly proud of our passionate team for what they have accomplished in the past nine days. Our top priority is keeping our humans safe and healthy.  Because when they are safe and healthy, WE CAN DO ANYTHING! And, we have HUGE lifesaving plans on the other side of this.  

As you know, this virus spreads like wildfire and has reached the community spread phase which is what makes it so dangerous at this point.  There were steps we needed to take immediately. Devastatingly, we had to cancel some of the events we had planned. This included the St. Louis Region Lifesaving Training that was going to give 80+ community industry leaders strategies to take back to their shelters to increase lifesaving efforts.   This will be rescheduled once we are in a more stable time. Next, we had to postpone the Grand Opening of our new facility. We know the community is waiting patiently for our Pet Resource Center to officially open its doors but we have to protect the community and our staff. Lastly, the opening of our Public Pet Clinic is on hold until we feel confident it is safe for the community.  

At Gateway Pet Guardians, we serve a vulnerable community.  45% of the population lives below the poverty line and some have limited or no healthcare.  Opening a public pet clinic in the midst of a health crisis is seemingly socially irresponsible.  This piece of our facility is vital to ensuring a healthy community of pet owners. We will get there, SOON.  For the time being, we continue to have resources such as the East Side Pet Crisis program for families in our service area that need emergency assistance.  

Now, for the amazing news!  GPG was founded on the basis of fostering to save lives.  We have ALWAYS been a foster-centric organization. We know dogs (and cats) thrive best in a home and not in a shelter.  Because of this (and many other things), we were well equipped to take quick measures to move any remaining shelter dogs into foster homes. 

Nine days ago, our staff put out a press release about our need for fosters during this time of crisis and the community responded… in a BIG way!  Within those nine days, we received 200 requests to foster and moved 55 animals into foster homes. There is still a lot of work to be done and animals that still need our help.  We are working on strategies right now to ensure our community’s pet needs are still being addressed during this crisis.  

I can’t say enough about our team pulling together to make some really incredible moves in such a short amount of time.  Being able to place every shelter dog along with every animal we have taken in along the way into a foster has been an incredible feat of team work!  This is a vital piece to keeping our staff healthy.

We are putting all our effort behind supporting our fosters to keep dogs in foster homes and out of the shelter during this time. In addition, our teams have put their thinking caps on to creatively adjust programming to reflect social distancing and shelter in place mandates.  

Two of the dogs transferred last week from St. Clair County Animal Services.

Because we have been so successful at putting and keeping at-risk dogs from our community into fosters, we will continue operating safely from our homes.  This means the shelter will remain closed to volunteers at this time. And, our staff will be following mandates set by our state and provide essential services only for the next two weeks.  

What does this mean for you?  Staff only will be allowed in the shelter and will be following strict sanitizing guidelines at the end of their day.  Fosters will need to request supplies by Monday through the supply request form and pick up using our social distancing parameters by Tuesday.  We are also bringing in all dogs from our service area from Animal Control Tuesday and getting them vetted and into fosters that day (now is the time to foster!).  After Tuesday, all staff are asked to stay home and safe for two weeks supporting all of you who have animals in your homes and the programs they are overseeing.  

There is still a lot of work to do and the great news is, we can do it remotely!  Our adoption leadership has already put together great documentation (found in our foster portal) to allow pet adoptions safely during this time.  People want pets right now as they are home with their families!  Let’s help make that happen!   

Our other vital need right now is monetary support.  GPG, like other businesses, knows that this global pandemic will dramatically affect the economy well past this immediate crisis.  We are looking for and planning creative engagement and virtual events to encourage donations. Your financial support right now allows us to continue our lifesaving work without making decisions to decrease critical staff and programming.  These are unprecedented times and we must remain strong TOGETHER to get through this.  

If you are home from work and want to remotely volunteer, please reach out to any of us on our leadership team and we can help find a fit for you! 

Thank you for your patience and support during this time.  I miss you all! I will continue to update our supporters throughout this crisis. 

Jamie Case

Executive Director