Not for the Faint of Heart

women scanning stray dog for microchip

There’s a reason why I work in the communications department.

Don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite things to do is spend the entire day out in the community with our outreach team providing resources to families who need them most. There is just something about seeing the love and relief in pets and people’s eyes when we extend a hand that is incredibly humbling, and it reminds me that there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing for a career than to be here, giving families who are trying their best to provide for everyone in their family, including their pets, a break.

The cool thing about working here, though, is that everyone, regardless of which department they work in, is empowered to do outreach. However, I’m not sure I could do it every day like Rae, Ramona and our outreach volunteers. Here’s why.

You can’t always expect to get instant results. Seven times out of 10, when a pet is in an imperfect situation, it really just boils down to a lack of education or resources, and our team is able to help on the spot. But, in some cases, it can take multiple visits to show folks that we’re simply just trying to help. Many of the people we cross paths with are wary of help and kindness because they’re not things they’ve ever been shown before. 

That’s why our outreach team makes it their goal to provide education, resources and, most importantly, trust within our community. 

Some of the situations they see, though, aren’t for the faint of heart. And I’ll be honest with you, before I used to work here, part of me would have been quick to judge. I’m not proud of it, and I thought it came from my love for animals, but this team has helped me realize that’s not fair to their owners. In most cases, they are just doing their best to get by. And they lean on their animals to take the pain of their daily struggles away.

But, still, outreach can be emotionally draining. The hardest part for Rae, our outreach and resource supervisor, is the fact that, “we can’t win them all.”

“If, at the end of the day, we don’t get the results we wished for, we have to go home defeated. And that’s hard,” she says.

“I sometimes dream about it,” Ramona, our community field coordinator, adds. Because they have so much love for each and every pet they help.

pet outreach staff delivering straw for dog houses

The two of them have been doing outreach work in our community for years, so they know all the tricks of the trade. But if there’s one thing you should know about this team, it’s that they never give up. 

So I asked them: what do you do when education and resources don’t work?

“Give it time. Keep going back and chipping away at it little by little,” Ramona says.

“And continue to try and build the relationship if it’s a situation where the person seems open to education,” Rae adds.

I’ve seen them work their magic in the field, when they have those breakthrough moments and develop that trust with an individual that helps us improve both their life and their pet’s. And it almost always leads us to being able to help in more ways than one.

The purpose of this blog is to show that this team, even on the days where they lose sleep at night, will never stop helping the pets and people they’ve grown to love. Their level of dedication to their community is unmatched, and I can’t picture a better group of humans to lead the state of Kansas City animal welfare in the right direction.

And to do so with a whole lot of kindness, understanding…and love.

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