It’s cold out. Single digits and dark.
The day started too early, and probably won’t be through until nearly midnight. So far a number of spills have been taken on the snow-slickened hillsides (nobody hurt, thankfully), handfuls of community cats have been trapped, covered, and returned to SNKC, and a number of teams scattered throughout the city are huddled in vans getting warm before they trudge back out into the snow to check the traps again.
Nary a complaint is heard.
Hustling to Help Pets and People
It’s just another day (or night) in the life of our Families Better Together™ (FBT) outreach team.
Five to six days a week, they’re in the thick of it. Their days start at a normal time, but calm, quiet mornings don’t last long. Calls and emails come in waves. Soon they’re hitting the streets, a parade of dog houses, vans filled with pet food and other supplies, and shuttles for pet owners without transportation.
All day long the team zigzags through neighborhoods, hopping between calls for help, assisting animal control, making runs to our shelter partners, popping back in to SNKC HQ to grab more supplies, or simply checking in on someone who might be struggling.
I wouldn’t call it a delicate dance; maybe more like a mosh pit. It’s a chaotic rush that seems to accelerate during the day … and often well into the evening. “We are the boots on the ground team that is helping keep pets in their homes,” explains Alicia Valenzuela, community engagement manager at SNKC. “We provide the resources necessary, like food, shelter, bowls, and leashes, whatever is needed, to help keeps pets happy and healthy. And to make sure pet owners can be compliant with local and state regulations.”
This mission is simple, adds Alicia: to help people who might not be able to get the resources they need. And to increase pet retention. “We often run into situations where our clients need something as simple as dog food to be able to keep their pets,” Alicia confirms.
Seeing it In Action
Recently, a woman called because she needed our help and I got to go out with the team.
The woman is a shut-in, has no transportation, and is getting up there in years. She is utterly alone except for her cantankerous cat and a small dog. Without a little support, turns out she wasn’t going to be able to keep either of her new friends.
That’s not what we want.
The FBT team jumped into action. They made arrangements to pick up her cat, get him neutered, vaccinated, then return him with other supplies she would need to provide him with a loving home. Since her little dog was already fixed, all she needed for him was a few supplies.
When I went to meet her, I saw two friends who belonged together, who made each other’s lives better, but who wouldn’t have been able to do that if not for a little support. The kind our FBT team extends to families every day.
It’s remarkable really, to see how dedicated our team are every single day. And during the cold nights, when it would be easier to just not think about what’s happening out in the frigid darkness.
“I really enjoy seeing the relief on pet owner’s faces when they realize we’re able to help them,” admits Alicia. ”You’re able to see this weight lifted off of their shoulders, and that’s what makes it all worth it.”
Indeed it does. Each day, in so many ways, the SNKC team – and our FBT outreach folks – run toward the problem, whatever it happens to be.
A day in the life? There’s no way to accurately describe one day over the next. It’s typically chaos, answering calls, responding to emails, out in the field in the dark or freezing rain, making sure that pets and people can stay together. They’ll do it today. Then again tomorrow. And the day after.
As they like to say, families are better together.