The nonprofit life can be frustrating at times because of the limitations of any organization. You want to grow, you want to reach more people, you want to be able to have a more holistic approach to the problems you address. But you can’t always do that because of limitations on resources, funding, staffing, etc. #nonprofitlife
That’s where partnerships come in. Since part of our goal as an organization is to be in the community and be of the community, partnerships make sense. Creating bonds between organizations strengthens the community as a whole, but it also helps us do things we couldn’t otherwise.
Look at our partnership with K-State, for example. They bring their veterinary students here to hone their skills with real-world experience. They rotate through the departments to get a range of experience: vaccinations, surgery, dentals, urgent care, and most importantly, outreach.
Why most importantly? K-State is trying to build more of an outreach curriculum. Makes sense to partner with an organization that’s already in the community, right? This gives them experience in the field that they wouldn’t get otherwise, and it helps them understand that they won’t be dealing with hypotheticals when they’re out of school; they’ll be dealing with real pets that live in real circumstances. Those circumstances may not always be ideal; outreach is to some extent an exercise in meeting people where they are, and finding the best case scenario to ensure the best way forward. It’s one of the reasons we love working with these students: we love imparting what we’ve learned from doing outreach to a whole new generation of veterinarians that will shape the industry in years to come. Why wouldn’t we want a hand in that?
But it doesn’t just benefit them; it benefits us, too. Apart from veterinary students learning about us and what we do for the community, it gives us some extra pairs of hands, and reason to go by and give some extra care to the clients and pets that need it.
Every resource we use, we use a lot. That doesn’t just mean pet supplies and food, but also office and medical supplies. Partnering with other organizations that can help provide us with those resources helps us save on spending, which means we’ve got more money to put back into our programs and grow our reach.
Both Pet Supplies Plus and Starbucks in Brookside provide spaces for folks to drop off pet supplies, office supplies, and pet food. We find it’s important to have these spaces for folks who live further away from our clinic or are busy and can’t always find the time to get here. And having donation bins at pet supply stores is a great way to incentivize your average shopper to pick up a little something extra during their shopping to help us out.
But having these bins does something else, too. It gets our name out in the community. It’s seen by people who’ve never heard of us before, who might be looking for someplace to get help for their pets, or volunteer, or make a donation too.
Heart to Heart International, whose mission is to increase equitable access to healthcare for humans, sometimes gets veterinary supplies that they can’t use (because they’re focused on human health), so we partnered with them and now we get those supplies to use in-clinic! Medical supplies are one of the things we get the least donations of, so this partnership is really a gift.
And none other than our friends at Hill’s Pet Nutrition provide us with dog and cat food that we can use for our pet food pantry, including the occasional special diet food, which we very rarely get and can come in really handy for a pet owner whose pet has specific nutritional or dietary needs.
Meeting the Needs of the Community
Our outreach and mobile vaccination program are essential to the well-being of pets in and around our community. Hosting drive thru or sit ‘n’ serve clinics in vet deserts is one of our favorite things to do, and our friends at Tito’s Handmade Vodka have played a huge part in sponsoring those events this year. This allows us not only the chance to vaccinate pets that need it, but also provide support for folks in outlying areas that don’t have access to affordable vet care in their area. They also love to help us with our holiday outreach program, providing joy and good cheer for the holidays, because everybody deserves a little celebration.
And our friends at the Jackson County Regional Animal Shelter have just recently partnered with us to help in our mission of shelter intervention — that is, helping out folks who would otherwise have to relinquish their pet or whose pet might be impounded because they aren’t able to comply with local ordinances or simply feel like they don’t have the ability to care for their furry family member. They refer folks to us, we help those folks with what they need, and that’s one more pet that doesn’t end up in a shelter. Sounds like a win to us.
It isn’t a situation we always need, and the ability to utilize it varies based on the pet in question, but our partnership with Winding River Pet Village allows us a place for when we need to board a pet temporarily. Recently we’ve come across situations where an owner with no family was going to be hospitalized for a few days and, being on a fixed income, had no way to take care of his dogs while he was away, so he reached out. Being able to provide those folks emergency assistance keeps those pets in a loving home, and provides their owner with a bit of relief, so they can focus on the matter at hand.
And of course there’s Uplift, helping the houseless community. We go out with them every week. This is a partnership that means a great deal to us. These folks have access to the houseless community that a lot of other organizations don’t or can’t, because of the inherent distrustfulness that’s fostered in this marginalized community. Bringing a veterinarian and some volunteers out to the camps allows us to provide support to a community that needs it the most. The houseless community often depends upon their pets for a level of emotional support they can’t get anywhere else. Feeling that they have a companion takes away some of the hurt they experience on a daily basis and bolsters them to continue on.
Strength in Numbers, Power in Solidarity
Nobody does this work alone. We wouldn’t be able to reach nearly as many people as we do, wouldn’t be able to handle so many different types of situations, wouldn’t be able to keep as many pets in loving homes, without the assistance of our partners. Our partnerships create stronger bonds in the community, and that means fewer pets and people falling through the cracks. It’s good to know folks who’ve got our back.