A new partnership in development at the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department’s East Patrol Division will connect struggling families with vital resources for their pets.
East Patrol social worker Trena Miller has recently opened up a line of dialogue with Andrea Knobbe, the Executive Director and “jack of all trades” of The Rescue Project, a volunteer-based non-profit organization focused on pet welfare.
Knobbe has proposed supplying KCPD’s East Patrol officers with both pet food and contact information for The Rescue Project as they make welfare stops throughout their sector.
“Heartworm testing, microchip, all those sorts of things are negotiable,” Knobbe said. “The baseline is spay and neuter and rabies, so they can be up to par with City ordinances.”
Though The Rescue Project does not have a brick and mortar facility, the organization prides itself on its ability to respond to addresses where pets and their owners are in need of a helping hand. In addition to the basics like food, The Rescue Project can help administer Trap Neuter Return (TNR) services – a popular policy for taking care of feral cats – while also helping pet owners meet a bevy of other needs: spay and neutering, vaccinations, assistance paying vet bills, providing lightweight, pet-friendly tie-outs for owners to tie their dogs up safely; and even preventative flea and tick formulas and fly repellant.
“Those are just some of the resources we provide,” Knobbe said. “In the wintertime, it’s straw to keep warm in Igloo doghouses and things like that. So we provide that as well.”
Typically, Knobbe says that The Rescue Project gets its pet food from distributors who have expired or broken food bags. But they also rely on the generosity of the public and a growing roster of partnerships that includes relationships with the unified government of Kansas City, Kansas, Greater KC Humane Society, Spay Neuter Kansas City, Great Plains SPCA, Unleashed Pet Rescue, and the KC Pet Project animal shelter.
Knobbe has noticed a great need while responding to leads in the Northeast part of Kansas City, which is how the budding relationship with Miller and the East Patrol Division initially spawned.
“The northeast area of KCMO is definitely the most volatile area, where the most need lies of anywhere, maybe even parts of KCK,” Knobbe said.
She describes encountering a plethora of stray animals in the area, along with significant feral cat colonies and pet owners who don’t have a working knowledge of best practices.
“We provide a lot of spay/neuter resources, and a lot of food; a lot of people are on food stamps,” Knobbe said. “A lot of very prideful people; they want to feed their pet, and a lot of people will feed their animal before they feed themselves. But the need is very, very great over there. Huge.”
From the police department’s perspective, the partnership can potentially provide officers with one more avenue for making positive connections in the neighborhood. Miller, for instance, envisions the pet partnership as a tool to help her get a foot in the door as she works to provide social services throughout the patrol division. Miller will serve as the liaison for The Rescue Project, which Knobbe said is eager to get started with the pilot program at East Patrol.
“I just need a date, and we’ll get our volunteers to start bagging.”