This article originally appeared in the North Texas e-News.
Lifesaving, family-building work that brings happiness and joy to homes across North Texas happens each day thanks to one organization in Carrollton. Local animal shelter and nonprofit Operation Kindness uses an impressive array of resources to provide second chances for thousands of pets across the region, with the organization already having helped facilitate over 2,900 adoptions this year.
Calling Operation Kindness simply a local shelter is underselling the uniqueness of its operation though. The nonprofit goes above the standard call of a shelter in more ways than one, starting with its service area.
“We actually have a really large range. Operation Kindness works with more than 70 different rescue partners and other municipal agencies that have animals,” Natalie Buxton, Director of Marketing and Communications at Operation Kindness, said. “We work with some in Waco and Austin, Oklahoma and Louisiana as well. Some of our largest partners are some of the big shelters in the region like Dallas Animal Services.”
Buxton explained that Operation Kindness, which is a no-kill shelter, frequently receives animals from other area shelters that are experiencing overcrowding. It also receives animals which are sick or injured thanks to perhaps its most unique feature: a full-service veterinary clinic.
“In any given month, they’re doing about 1200 medical exams in the shelter through that veterinary hospital,” Buxton said, adding that the clinic sees about 140 animals on a given day. “We have three full-time veterinarians that are on staff that work with the animals here in our care.”
Buxton explained that the hospital can handle everything from major illnesses to medical operations with surgical suites, isolation rooms, an X-Ray Room and an oxygen generator among its available resources.
“We are willing to do anything that we can for the animals if there is a chance that they are going to be able to be healthy and happy and be adopted,” Buxton said. “We’re gonna do everything that they need.”
To that end, Operation Kindness also provides resources to pets in need who are already in homes in the community. The shelter operates a pet food pantry that provides temporary assistance for individuals struggling to feed their cats and dogs.
Operation Kindness’ veterinary hospital also has a dedicated veterinarian who works with the community as well. The nonprofit works with the Spay Neuter network to help provide basic vet care to community animals in need. Operation Kindness even notably provides veterinarian care for 14 days after an animal finds a new home if needed.
It’s programs and elements at Operation Kindness like those which speak to some of the areas of concern that have emerged following a major surge in pet ownership during the pandemic as well as the current state of inflation in the nation.
According to the ASPCA, about one in every five households got a new pet during the pandemic. Now, with many companies having returned to work and shelter in place concerns far in the past, the fate of those pets has become the subject of much media interest.
In a story last year, the Dallas Observer noted that pandemic era pets were already pouring into area shelters, forcing some to hit capacity and become overcrowded. While the ASPCA has refuted this phenomenon on a national level, there were certainly concerns in the North Texas area to say the least. Operation Kindness currently sees a different underlying reasoning than what Buxton referred to as some of the “anecdotal” explanations for that trend though.
“We found that people during the pandemic, they spent a lot of time at home with their pets and they became quite bonded during that time and provided a lot of companionship. So, they were not really looking to give them up once return to work happened and those kinds of things happened,” Buxton said. She instead cited economic factors, job insecurity and housing changes as some of the biggest drivers in causing people to surrender their pets.
“Really coming out of the pandemic, we’re seeing this big demand for animals being in need that we hadn’t seen during the pandemic,” Buxton said. “Now that everything has kind of reopened, we’re seeing really big demand for adoptions and for services we’re offering like our pet food pantry and those community services like vaccinations and spay neuter, so the demand is definitely out there.”
Buxton noted that Operation Kindness is on track to see around 5,000 animals in its shelter this year and reach about 8,000 pets already in the local community through the organization’s Community Initiatives programs.
With that growing demand, Operation Kindness is looking to reach what Buxton refers to as the organization’s most ambitious goal yet this North Texas Giving Day, an annual fundraising event in the region. The nonprofit is looking to raise $300,000 during this year’s giving day, having already raised a little over $86,500 at time of writing in pre-giving day donations.
“That’s our big goal that we’ve set, because as we’re helping more animals and we ourselves are feeling the impact of inflation on the cost of supplies to operate our shelter; our needs are greater than ever,” Buxton said.
If you’re interested in helping Operation Kindness, visit its North Texas Giving Day page for more information and details on how to donate.