Our Mission: To Focus On the Positive

woman hugging blue pit bull with puppies

No question, this is a tough “business.”

Those of us working in it confront difficult situations regularly. And sometimes it seems, there’s  not much of a breather before the next difficult case lands in our laps. 

Thing is, nobody enters into this without knowing how hard it can be. We know of and work with many incredible people doing incredible things across the metro, all of whom have accepted that it’s not going to be easy.   

In fact, we shudder to think what would happen to thousands of animals if those people weren’t there doing the tough stuff they do to ease the suffering of our four-legged friends.

The outreach team of PRCKC is in the community regularly checking on dogs and cats.
Ramon stopping by to check on a client and their dog.

“We’re in a tough time right now,” said Pet Resource Center of Kansas City (PRCKC) founder and CEO, Michille Rivera. “Maybe the toughest I’ve ever seen. Shelters are full, rescues are scrambling, cases are coming one after another all day, every day, and there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.”

It can take an emotional toll, she says. But, Rivera adds, any time the community has a need, the outpouring of love and support shows how good people are; in reality, it’s only a small fraction of people causing most of the issues. 

“Our approach is to keep everything positive.”

Michelle Rivera, PRCKC Found and CEO

Building trust

Most importantly for us is to not judge people before we really understand them or their situations. Being negative or judgmental repels people from doing some of the rescue or advocacy work we need them to do.

Meeting people where they are, including homeless camps and in struggling neighborhoods.
Having our mobile units out in the community helps us meet – and help – people where they are.

”Our approach,” Rivera says, “is to keep everything positive. That alone helps with the emotional toll but also, honestly, it makes it easier to approach and help people who need it. Those of us in animal welfare can gain their trust that way, which opens more doors.”

Case in point: Two summers ago our outreach team was at the KCPP shelter when they met a lady who wanted to relinquish her dog. The dog belonged to her son who had moved out and she was having a hard time taking care of him. Other homeowners in the neighborhood were complaining about the dog, too, and she was at a loss about what to do. 

When our team took the time to sit with her and talk openly and honestly about her options, she let her guard down and began working with our staff to solve her problems. She took the dog home and, with a little assistance, continued to care for him. 

By working to build a relationship with families, they let us in versus shutting us out. And that helps us accomplish our goal of helping pets. 

Helping people with puppies.
When we can approach people without judgment, we can educate about spay/neuter and preventing more littlers.

But what about cruelty or neglect? 

“We have zero tolerance for it,” says Kristin Roth, PRCKC director of community engagement. “Those are really hard to deal with. And we completely understand the wear and tear that it has on people. If it’s a situation that seems neglectful, at first we try to provide some education and assistance. Then go from there. If we can turn a situation around then that’s far better than working to get an animal removed and put into the already stressed shelter system.” 

Letting the good show

At the end of the day, what we all want is to help the animals in our city have the best care and all the love they want. We believe – firmly – that the best way to do that is to leave our judgments behind and focus on solving problems. 

Our volunteers help us reach further into the community with more assistance.
This is Todd, who volunteers with us. He’s so good out in the community because he always has a sympathetic ear and a kind heart, which is how we always try to approach our work.

Yes, there are tough days. Even tough weeks. And when the weather is extreme like it has been here lately, that can bring more issues to our attention. Some of them are intractable, which wears on all of us. After all, we’re here to solve problems. 

“When we listen, we find out the full story. A lot of times we turn those situations around.”

Michelle Rivera, PRCKC Founder and CEO

Still, at the end of the day, when we take a moment to be open, to listen without a conclusion upfront before we ever know the full story, well, that’s how we can provide the most assistance. It seems a bit counterintuitive, especially when your first emotion is anger. As long as it’s not cruelty or neglect, taking a little time to understand can change the game. 

“We’ve been very open minded with people,” says Rivera. “When we listen, we find out the full story. A lot of times we turn those situations around. That’s why we’re here.”

Kalen with a dog we rescued from the streets and took to KCPP.
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