Getting To Know Courtney Thomas at Great Plains SPCA
Courtney Thomas, president and CEO of Great Plains SPCA, feels as if she needs a huge umbrella and some rain boots… after all, it is usually metaphorically raining cats and dogs and other domestic pets everywhere she turns. This energetic, smart, spunky lover of animals presides over two campuses in our metro area: one in Merriam and one in Independence. Both campuses are the result of a merger of two life-saving organizations; Animal Haven and No More Homeless Pets KC in June of 2011. With Courtney’s guidance, both locations serve the metro KC area and deliver services for pets, such as comprehensive affordable medical care, adoption services and innovative community programs. In addition to taking in lost and stray pets, GPSPCA also provides services for the community. Anyone can bring in a pet for veterinary services like general wellness checks, vaccinations and microchipping, heartworm diagnosis and treatment, blood work and diagnostics, dental cleaning, and various surgical procedures.
Any four-legged furry friend in Kansas City (and their owners) should be eternally grateful for the fact that this North Carolina gal with a degree in accounting ended up relocating to our area. Courtney’s passion is animal welfare, and her practice is proving that our animal friends deserve the compassion and care that they now receive. She is a relentless advocate for pets and strays and provides the inspiration and the innovation for her staff and volunteers to impact the lives of 800 pets a day.
In the last few years, Courtney has literally and figuratively been herding cats. She has taken the least desirable, yet functional, facilities and parlayed them into brand new, state of the art centers serving everyone’s needs. Besides overcoming physical facility needs, Courtney has also breathed life into community outreach and engagement. This is just a sampling of what she and her team are up to:
- Encouraging residents to shelter pets in their homes
- Operating an intake process which facilitates surrendering a pet to the facility, rather than just leaving it on the streets
- Providing a Behavior and Training program to help adoptive parents and pets adapt to each other
- Young Heroes Camp, providing education and interaction regarding animal welfare to young children during the summer
- SASSY Program (Shelter Animlas + Seniors + Supportive Youth) – helping seniors lead productive and fulfilling lives by creating and strengthening relationships with pets
- Operation Furballs – a low-cost spay and neuter program
- Working with PACK (Pet/Animal Coalition of Kansas) an animal advocacy group working to help animals in the metro, state and region through legislation.
As if all of that weren’t enough, the GPSPCA group makes pet care and adoption fun! They have created a permanent and pervasive social media presence; they find themes for pet adoption events (think holidays and costumes); they appreciate and applaud kids who hold fundraisers or birthday gifting parties for animals; and they fancy themselves matchmakers for people and pets.
Despite Courtney’s incredible success with animal welfare, there are still some enormous challenges ahead. Here is what she wants us to know:
- Their needs are ongoing… 800 pets per day need help
- A new intake facility is needed
- More education is essential in the community and neighborhood outreach efforts
- And, of course donations and volunteers are always needed! People are needed to walk dogs, socialize cats, work special events, assist in the medical center, and provide administrative help to the office.
Her parting words to animal lovers everywhere are, “Come and visit and you will fall in love! It is not a sad place, it is a place of great hope for our furry friends.”
And, if you see Courtney running around in a rain coat and rain boots, just know she’s trying to keep her head above water!
For more information, please visit GreatPlainsSPCA.org.