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KC Pet Project Team

PPP funds help KC Pet Project manage record pet adoptions

“Commerce works very hard to make sure we can use our funds to support our mission. They alert us to things we should be thinking about, and they’re friendly and helpful on top of that. Commerce is all the things you want your bank to be.”

— Gail Longstaff, chief administrative and programs officer

Dog in front of Adoption Center with new family

2020 had all the makings of a watershed year for KC Pet Project, the Kansas City nonprofit that cares for more than 10,000 stray animals each year.

It began the year by celebrating the grand opening of the Kansas City Campus for Animal Care, the new state-of-the-art sheltering facility that replaced its nearly 50-year-old facility that KC Pet Project operates through a public-private partnership with the city.

In the following weeks and months, staff had scheduled dozens of campus and community events. Preparations were complete for a major fundraising event tied to the Big 12 college basketball tournament.

Then, the day before the March 13 fundraiser, the world changed.

3 kids with adopted dog

Growing COVID-19 concerns led the Big 12 conference to cancel its basketball tournament, requiring KC Pet Project leaders to transform the fundraiser into a virtual event. Meanwhile, they had the health and safety of their own staff, along with the animals in their care, to worry about.

“We are deemed an essential service,” explains Tori Fugate, the nonprofit’s chief communications officer. “So we were still accepting strays on an emergency basis. But to protect against coronavirus exposure, we needed to find homes quickly for as many animals as possible.”

The next two weeks were the two busiest in the organization’s eight-year history. A plea to the community generated responses from 900 people willing to foster or adopt the nearly 400 animals that were housed in the shelter. “The community supported us in ways we couldn’t have imagined,” says Fugate.

Fostering a dog

The nonprofit’s financial future was less certain. “We had reduced our adoption fees, and with all of our spring and summer events cancelled or delayed, we lost many of our primary sources of revenue,” recalls Gail Longstaff, chief administrative and programs officer. Thanks to foster families and adoption, KC Pet Project reduced its shelter population to 30 pets before closing its satellite adoption locations and furloughing some staff.

Then came conversations with Commerce Bank about the Paycheck Protection Program administered by the Small Business Administration as part of the CARES Act. Commerce has served as KC Pet Project’s bank since its founding, providing a range of banking, credit card, brokerage and other services.

Adopted dog named Zoey

“Commerce helped make the PPP application process simple for us,” says Longstaff. “Our rep stayed on top of what we needed and was very responsive in turning it around. Our application was approved within a couple of days.”

“Commerce has always looked out for our best interests, whether it is managing the PPP application process or finding a way to reduce transaction fees,” adds Longstaff. “With Commerce, everything just works the way it is supposed to.”

KC Pet Project primarily used its PPP funds to bring back furloughed workers and cover payroll, including those who could not yet return to work. A smaller portion went toward utilities and rent.

Dog named Barbara Jean

“It really helped us stay afloat, especially in April and May,” says Fugate. [By June,] “without PPP, we would be in a world of hurt,” adds Longstaff.

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