Grand Prairie Cat Crew

Exploring The World of Animal Shelters: An Inside Look At Grand Prairie Cat Crew

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An interview with Grand Prairie Cat Crew from Dallas, Texas.

Introducing Grand Prairie Cat Crew

Founder – Grand Prairie Cat Crew

I started the Grand Prairie CAT CREW originally as a Facebook page to highlight shelter cats, who were not being shown well to the public. I would go photograph them after I finished helping the dogs. Then we had the chance to get a TNR (trap/neuter/return) program started, and a new city ordinance passed, and we jumped at the chance. Once the TNR ordinance was in place, we got very busy saving each and every cat that came into the shelter by paying to get them services and get them released. Our volunteers would take them to the clinic, pick them up post-surgery, keep them overnight or until they were ready for release, and then release them back home. We had no idea how we would pay for this service as it was costing us hundreds of dollars to save them, but we operated on faith and hope until a great organization gave us a grant for $26,000 – enough to pay for our first year of TNR services. In the second year, the animal shelter received a Petco Foundation grant to help with expenses, and soon after that, the shelter started incorporating the services into their regularly offered services. We used to see these boxes in some of the kennels – those were the stray cats that were all to be euthanized. That was a big incentive— keeping all those lives safe!

How did Grand Prairie Cat Crew Start? What Are The Challenges Encountered Along The Way?

Animals meant a lot to me growing up; they were a constant source of comfort. We always took in the strays, so it came naturally to me to want to find homes for the unwanted animals in our shelter. I started volunteering with dogs and was moved to helping cats because I cared just as much about one as the other. Being vegan, all animals were important to me. Eventually, we found that this whole body of animals, the community cats (homeless), really needed our help. They needed food, and they needed shelter, and above all, they needed competent veterinary care. This became our calling. One of the things we were horrified to learn when we started – the percentage of cats making it out of the shelter alive was in single digits. Within just a few years, we had completely turned that on its head and were soon saving over 90% of all the cats! We also help the occasional dog that needs veterinary care, such as a homeless dog or a puppy that needs to be adopted. We even helped with bunny rescues!

Tell Us About The Most “Unusual” Animal That Grand Prairie Cat Crew Has Ever Taken.

We were contacted about a puppy that had been thrown from a car on the freeway. An elderly couple saved the puppy but couldn’t keep him. We had enough funds to get him fully vetted and get his broken leg seen, and provide heartworm prevention treatment, but by then the leg had set improperly. The dog gets along well with the leg, but we did offer surgery to the family that adopted him. However, the vet felt it might cause more harm than good, so they opted to leave him alone. We get photos from this family and it is always wonderful to see how much they love Petey. They had a cat at the time they took him in, and the cat wasn’t thrilled with the dog – it was almost a deal-breaker. But they listened to us as we taught them how to introduce the two, and now they are best pals! One of our other interesting stories is the story of Socks. He was a beloved shelter kitty that the shelter did not want to give up on but he had luxating patellas that were going to need surgery. The estimate was about $4k per leg, and the chance of success was about 50%. That was beyond our ability to pay, so we had to decline. But someone on Facebook saw my dilemma and shared their rescue surgeon who was a specialist for this disorder. We had to drive him about 4 hours away to get his surgery, but it was a real success! Better still, he became best buddy with the clinic cat, and they decided to keep him. He is now with the specialist and can get free laser treatments for his legs whenever he needs them and has a wonderful life in the clinic! We were so happy with this outcome.

Petey and Pal

Tell Us About Your Events

We used to hold online auctions twice a year – those were a big hit and brought in a good portion of our donations to keep us going. But they are a lot of work, so we moved to have other events.  We gather up used athletic shoes and mail them to a program that refurbishes them and gives us a fee for each bag.  We have donation boxes throughout the city that brings in a steady stream of small change. We did an online Christmas tree that allowed our donors to select a colored ball, a light, or a gift under the tree, and each one had a message.  When the tree was done, we raised over $1,000! We also hosted a Fall Festival this past year at the animal shelter. We sold pumpkins and many wonderful donated items in a holiday boutique. We celebrated the thousands of cats we have now provided services to and gave ear-tipped cookies to those in attendance. We raised $1,500. We were also the beneficiary of a golf tournament that raised over $2,000 for us!

Most Rewarding Part Of Running An Animal Rescue

 There are two answers: the volunteers/supporters and the animals! Seeing animals like Socks and Petey (above) find happy lives makes it worthwhile, and meeting a lot of giving compassionate people is also a reward.

Socks with his pal, Fred

What Do You Think Might Be The Greatest Challenge Of Running An Animal Rescue?

The need for constant fundraising and recruitment of new volunteers is always a concern, but our supporters never let us down. We now have a fund from the Kathy Beeler Memorial grant that allows us to use Matching Funds for emergency surgeries and other veterinary care. This has really been a blessing to our rescue.

Tell Us More About The Volunteers In Grand Prairie Cat Crew

There are so many! A couple of people come to mind: Jake Wiegand and Viridian Ramirez run our food program, have fostered and adopted from us, and Viri is also on the Board of Directors. Jake is an IT guy who helps us with online issues and will be helping out soon with our finances. They also both do outreach! They came to us after seeking our help with injured kittens whom they fostered.

Originally most came for the city animal shelter. They would contact us when an animal that was beyond their ability to help came in. But now that our program is known among the citizens, we receive a lot of calls from colony feeders that have an injured or sick cat or have found one on the street. They contact our director, Londa Knaack, and she finds out if they will foster the cat during recovery and then, if funds permit, gets them to our rescue vet. She discusses it with the other admins, and if approved, they are taken into our program.

What Are The Busiest Periods And How Does Grand Prairie Cat Crew Cope?

Summer is the breeding season, so that is usually our busiest time; although the cold can harm many animals, so we stay busy year-round. Fortunately, we have extra volunteers in the summer when school is out, and teachers are more available. We do not adopt animals, so we refer healthy litter to adoption programs. However, we intake litter when the mama is injured or ill or if the kittens need extra help.

Fall Festival – Trinidad Vargas Booth

What Animals Does Grand Prairie Cat Crew Focus On?

 We did not know the plight of stray cats when we started but soon learned of the desperate needs of these amazing animals. Through no fault of their own, most have been abandoned, and some have been born on the streets with no support. Most colony feeders try to get TNR services but have little funds available if they get sick or injured. We do offer a food program for the neediest in our community and help 15 families with monthly cat food, dropped off by one of our wonderful volunteer drivers on the first of each month to them.  The challenge of working with community or stray cats is that the cats often are terrified of people, so we may have to pay for sedation to get them seen at a vet clinic. It is also more difficult to find a foster to care for them.  But the rewards, as the animals, once suffering, become trusting and often become indoor animals and family members, make it all worthwhile.

Working With The Local Community

We originally worked quite closely with our city animal shelter and attended monthly meetings with them to coordinate the new TNR program. We were listed on their website and their handouts, and many people thought we were part of the city shelter. We also provided someone to handle all complaints about the program and offered free cat deterrents for the first few years to keep things peaceful. We worked with several agencies to get TNR services, including Spay Neuter Network, SPCA of Texas, and TCAP (Texas Coalition for Animal Protection). We partnered with Feral Friends, who gave us our original grant, as well as other rescues. If we received a huge donation (which we did on occasion), we shared it with other rescues, and they helped us when they could. Collaboration is one of our favorite things to do! We held a few Mass Trappings in coordination with the city shelter and Spay Neuter Network. We trapped the cats in high-density areas, brought them to the shelter, and cared for them in their traps until the SNN Mobile Surgical van arrived. We monitored them and fed them, cleaned them, and then released them. We once provided services for 132 cats in one week!

What Is Done Differently at Grand Prairie Cat Crew?

Our whole program is pretty unique. Now that the city shelter has taken over the TNR program, we have developed around meeting the needs of community cats. Our mission is to help vulnerable animals, and these are probably the most vulnerable animals in our city. We offer a food program that feeds about 15 colonies. We offer free loans for our dozens of Tru-Catch (safe) traps. We teach how to trap. We provide veterinary care to animals that normally would never see a veterinarian. We have winter shelter workshops and provide over 100 winter shelters each year to anyone in the DFW metroplex. We also offer free straws to anyone that wants them to help keep the cats warm. Most of our other services, such as veterinary support, are only for our city as demand is so high that we cannot help outside of city limits.

Tell Us More About your Events

We participate in the annual Ice Cream Challenge that our city provides for local nonprofits, as we have done twice in the past. We hope to host another Fall Festival in October and Winter Shelter Workshops in early Winter. We also participate in outreach at schools when invited and often host a table at our local Farmers Market.

Fall Festival Crew

How Has Grand Prairie Cat Crew Adapted To The Challenges Presented By The Pandemic?

Like most rescues, we were hit really hard during the pandemic.  Our city shelter quit providing the services it once did, and that meant more work for us, more cats on the street, and fewer resources for us. We had volunteers who lost family members to Covid and one who contracted long-term Covid very early on.

We were unable to send any healed and socialized animals to the city shelter for adoption and originally partnered with a private adoption rescue, but they too soon became overwhelmed.  Then we became part of the SPCA’s program that sends cats to areas where they do not have enough cats to meet the public’s demand. These are usually airline flights to colder climates where they don’t have the year-round breeding season that we have in Texas. That collaboration has saved hundreds of lives. Fundraising was also more difficult as everyone was struggling just to survive those difficult years. During hard times, the most vulnerable animals – our focus – need support more than ever. But we pulled together and got through it.

Share With Us Some Of The Heartwarming Stories Of Animals Rehabilitated And Rehomed By Grand Prairie Cat Crew.

We recall a wonderful story of a small kitten so injured that the vet told us they didn’t think she had much of a chance. Her leg was badly damaged and just hanging. She was only about 2 pounds. She had maggots inside of her wounds near her digestive area. The vet said if she could eliminate it properly, then she had a chance. Her finder patiently pulled out the maggots, she had the vet amputate her leg, and today Ruthie is one of the happiest cats on the planet!


What Are The Help Needed From The Local Community?

We need supporters, donors, volunteers, and partners to help us. We need interested parties to participate in our events. We need a solid relationship with our local city animal shelter (we have a volunteer who works there!), so we can help even more animals. We would love to have corporate sponsors.

Connect With Grand Prairie Cat Crew here:

Website: is thankful to Grand Prairie Cat Crew for the interview. 

Check out this page for the list of animal shelters in Dallas, Texas.

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