Click to View Latest IssueClick to View Latest Issue

Courtney Thomas and Great Plains SPCA: Partners for Life

By  0 Comments

Courtney Thomas and Great Plains SPCA: Partners for Life

With her degree in accounting, Courtney Thomas is a numbers kind of gal, and when she combines her extensive business training with her love of animals, it all adds up to a terrific bottom line called Great Plains SPCA. Courtney is the President and CEO of this heartwarming organization, primarily focused on serving cats and dogs, with facilities in Merriam, Kansas, and Independence, Missouri.

“Great Plains SPCA serves local pets in the Kansas City area,” noted the 39-year-old, married mother of three kids and three dogs. “Our organization is a true safety net for animals and the community. We serve 125 animals at our medical center every day, and every night a thousand animals are resting their heads here waiting for their new homes.”

A Heart for Service to Animals

During her business career, Courtney has always served the animal industry in some way. She’s managed veterinary hospitals and worked in animal shelters in her home state of North Carolina. But a new opportunity in shelter work brought her to the Kansas City community several years ago. At that time, her primary focus was on establishing programs to reduce the euthanasia rates for unwanted dogs and cats. Under her leadership and guidance, Great Plains SPCA, a Missouri nonprofit organization, was created in June 2011 through the merger of two other life-saving organizations, Animal Haven and No More Homeless Pets KC.

“I’m a visionary, and I developed the innovative solutions and ideas to grow a positive footprint in this area through Great Plains SPCA,” remarked Courtney. “No longer is the Kansas City community facing the problem of overpopulation with dogs and cats. Historically, spring and summer months are kitten and puppy season. Thanks to neuter and spay programs, we’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of unwanted animals.”

Creating Lifelong Bonds

In addition, Great Plains SPCA has bi-state pet adoption centers in Merriam and Independence, staffed with personnel who can find the perfect furry match for families. “At Great Plains SPCA, we believe that no matter their size, shape or story, all dogs and cats deserve the chance to live long, happy and healthy lives. That’s why our team of experts works hard every day to be a lifeline for a better future for pets by providing comprehensive, affordable medical care, adoption services and innovative community programs,” enthused Courtney. “That’s because we know that with a little support, people and pets can build a bond unlike any other, creating happier homes and a community that values life and love.”

Under Courtney’s guidance, Great Plains SPCA has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2011, the facility was serving 10,000 animals each year, and now that number has blossomed to 35,000, which is a 250 percent increase. In the same time period, the budget has expanded 225 percent, from $2 million to $6.5 million. She notes that the organization has a 96 percent live-release rate, meaning that for all of the animals brought to the facilities, regardless of their age, medical condition or behavioral disposition, 96 percent or more are placed in a loving home. None of this would be possible without the support of the hundreds of volunteers that Courtney describes as the lifeblood of her organization. Last year alone, these animal champions contributed close to 100,000 hours of service between the two campuses, and more are always needed.

“No other agency in the KC Metro is serving the number of pets we are on an annual basis. We assist three to seven and a half times the number of pets as other local agencies, and we stretch our resources as far as we possibly can,” observed Courtney. “We are the most diligent and respectful stewards of our donors’ contributions, putting those dollars to use in helping the pets with greatest needs. We are the only animal welfare agency in the metro with a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.”

Keeping Pet Homes Intact

Even with these significant accomplishments, Courtney knows that her challenges at Great Plains SPCA will continue. She is homing in on another obstacle facing animals and their owners in our community. “Now our number one challenge is pet retention. Older animals are being surrendered to shelters in increasing numbers, many times because owners can’t afford the veterinary care that’s necessary for older animals,” she detailed. “At Great Plains SPCA, we have the resources to help owners retain their pet without giving them up. Our focus is on keeping pets and people together, where they belong.”

Great Plains SPCA makes high-quality, affordable veterinary care a reality for those who otherwise may be unable to provide medical care for their pet due to financial limitations. Courtney and her staff strongly believe that all pets should have equal access to quality medical care. “For many pet owners in Kansas City, cost prevents them from providing their pets with the medical attention they need. In some cases, pet owners are faced with the decision to relinquish their pet to a shelter, or worse yet, euthanize their beloved companion, because they simply cannot afford the necessary medical treatment,” Courtney remarked. “Great Plains SPCA wants to ensure that pets remain healthy, happy and at home with their owners.”

Outstanding Veterinary Care

Every day the staff at Great Plains SPCA sees more than 125 pets at its premier Veterinary Care Center. Many of these owners are paying for services on a sliding fee scale that is based on their income. In addition to low-cost spay and neuter services, Great Plains SPCA also provides general wellness exams, vaccinations and microchipping; DNA testing; heartworm treatment; blood work and diagnostics; dental cleanings and extractions; and other surgical procedures.

But a client does not have to be in need to use the services at Great Plains SPCA. All pet owners are encouraged to bring in their furry loved ones for care, because all fees help to underwrite the cost of providing this desperately needed service to the community. “All revenue received from clients at the Great Plains SPCA Veterinary Care Center goes back to support our mission to give hope and promise to the homeless and needy pets in our community,” revealed Courtney. “The most critical components of our lifesaving equation are prevention and retention, the initiatives at the very core of our mission and the programs now at risk.”

The Generosity of Local Support

Great Plains SPCA requires a great deal of money to provide these greatly needed services. She notes that during the month of December all donations made by the public will be matched by a local donor family. Last year $276,000 was raised and matched. “Now, that may seem like a lot of money, but that’s only four percent of the organization’s yearly $6.5 million budget. It takes nearly $2 million to run our medical center alone, and no one else in the community provides that service,” stressed Courtney.

This December, the Great Plains SPCA is aiming for a $500,000 goal to be matched by the donor family. Courtney notes that online giving is the easiest way to donate at Contributions can also be mailed to 5428 Antioch Drive, Merriam, Kansas, 66202. “We encourage donors to come in for a visit, take a tour and see first-hand how your dollars will be put to great use,” she said. “We need financial support today, to help us accomplish our mission of helping animals that have nowhere else to turn. Our mission work is funded solely through the generosity of local donors. We receive no state, federal or national funding and are not affiliated with any national organizations.”

Hope and Miracles

The motto for Great Plains SPCA is a simple one: Heroes for pets, partners for life. Courtney enjoys immense satisfaction in the good work this organization is able to accomplish for our furry friends and the owners who adore them. Through the generosity of others and the volunteer work of hundreds, she guides her association through the establishment of life-saving programs that make miracles happen every day, tenderly moving them through the entire life cycle of owning and loving a pet. Whether it’s providing low-cost veterinary services, caring for abandoned animals or simply keeping two creatures together in a loving environment, the work all adds up for Courtney and Great Plains SPCA. HLM