We have an exciting announcement! Maddie’s Fund®, a national family foundation established by Dave and Cheryl Duffield to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals, has awarded Gateway Pet Guardians an Innovation Grant for $5,000 to be used to save more lives through our return-to-owner program.

Recently, a No-Kill Resolution for St. Clair County was passed in an effort to save more lives. This has caused (welcomed) stress on all of the organizations in St. Clair County, as we all embrace change and implement innovative programs. We have worked to implement several programs to prevent intake at animal control and within our rescue, but the problem remains that we are not successfully returning animals to their rightful owners when animals enter the shelter as strays.

Using 2017 data from St. Clair County Animal Control, the return-to-owner rate for dogs from East St. Louis alone was 4.7%— only 7 out of 149 adult dogs that were turned in as strays were returned to their owners. This number is even more staggering for cats. Zero of the 58 cats from East St. Louis returned home to their families.

We find those numbers heartbreaking as we know in so many cases, the owners are frantic and devastated at the loss of their pets. And that is just one of the municipalities that we serve.

Thanks to this $5,000 grant from Maddie’s Fund, we plan to implement a targeted, grassroots Lost/Found Pet Return to Owner Program. This program includes a lost/found dog kit with yard signs, colored printed flyers and tape to help owners find their pets and help community members find the rightful owners of found pets. This boots on the ground approach will include volunteers and staff going door to door and really focusing on returning pets to their people that love them. This approach overcomes many barriers that owners face in reclaiming their pets, including computer/Internet access, transportation, and knowing where to begin looking for a lost pet.

Maddie’s Fund®is a family foundation created in 1994 by Workday® co-founder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, who have endowed the Foundation with more than $300 million. Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than $225.7 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, shelter management leadership, shelter medicine education, and foster care across the U.S. The Duffields named Maddie’s Fund after their Miniature Schnauzer Maddie, who always made them laugh and gave them much joy. Maddie was with Dave and Cheryl for ten years and continues to inspire them today.

Maddie’s Fund is the fulfillment of a promise to an inspirational dog, investing its resources to create a no-kill nation where every dog and cat is guaranteed a healthy home or habitat. #ThanksToMaddie.