Thursday, March 11, 2010

Progress at the emergency shelter

Submitted by EARS volunteer Marcia Goodman of Cromwell, Connecticut

I haven’t previously reported on one piece of excellent news for the dogs seized from Raven's Hope Animal Sanctuary here in Kemper County, Mississippi. The owner agreed not to contest the seizure except for three dogs she identified. For readers of this blog who volunteer with EARS, you know that if she had contested the seizure and forced the matter to wind its way through the courts, these dogs could have been on hold in shelters for a very long time.

With that backdrop, the count of dogs in the shelter has begun to drop dramatically as animal welfare organizations have begun to transport the dogs to locations where they will be put up for adoption. Twenty-four dogs left today (Thursday), bringing our count here down to about 150 dogs, and EARS volunteer Julie Rathbun just drove off with three mommas and their puppies to a Mississippi veterinarian about three hours away (but he’s meeting her half-way) who will care for these dogs until the puppies are old enough to adopt out and who will spay and neuter them all. What a nice thing for him to do!

Shame on me for not getting a video of Julie driving off with the three carriers of momma dogs and their babies in the back of her vehicle. Janell Matthies, Emergency Services Manager for UAN, arrived today from UAN’s main office to be part of the shelter team and she brought a video camera for me to try. (Until today, I’ve been solely a still camera person; I’ve never even used a video before.) It’s a super-easy camera to use and I took what I think was some good footage of Julie taking off on this journey, but then I discovered that I had turned the video camera on as I was walking to a position where I could start videoing Julie and turned it off when I meant to shoot the footage of her driving off. My bad! I do have some footage from a few minutes earlier showing Julie’s preparations to leave, and some footage of the animals in the shelter, and I hope to post those.

Tomorrow – Friday – will be more of the same, with a large transport of dogs expected to leave us for agencies where they can be adopted out. We all love saying our goodbyes to these dogs as they leave, knowing they will soon be up for adoption!

The EARS volunteers continue to care for the animals who remain at this shelter. Today I’ll feature two more volunteers: Roxanne Quinlan, who completed her deployment yesterday, and Debra Hutchinson for whom today is the last day of deployment.

Roxanne (right) is from Austin, Texas and has been on about five deployments before this one, starting with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She volunteers with EARS because she’s trying to make a difference by doing something that she can do, but that not everyone else can. She is able to take off to an emergency on short notice. I asked Roxanne what draws her to animals, and she said that if we don’t help animals, they can’t help themselves. With disasters, the animals didn’t choose to be there the way people choose where they live.

Roxanne says that every deployment is hard in its own, different way, and here in Kemper County, it was very hard to see so many animals arrive in such filth. She gets something different from every deployment. In some ways, they’re all the same – the work always involves cleaning cages and feeding and watering the animals – but the difference is the community in which the shelter is erected and the different needs of the animals.

We wish Roxanne a safe trip home as she is now on the road for the 10-hour drive back to Austin.

For Debra Hutcherson (right), of Larue, Texas, this is the second EARS deployment. The first was a horse rescue in Tennessee this past December. She’s also done local rescues and she transports rescue animals.

Debra began volunteering with EARS because she and her husband moved to rural Texas where she doesn’t know anyone, and EARS presented a way for her to be part of the rescue work she loves. I asked her why she wants to help animals in particular, and she said, “I feel that animals can’t speak for themselves and I want to help do that. Lots of people step up for human charities, but very few people are there to help animals.”

I asked Debra if it’s hard to leave after one week of deployment, saying goodbye to all the dogs and her fellow volunteers. She said that in a way it is, but she also knows that her departure from this shelter gives another volunteer the opportunity to take her place and participate as an EARS volunteer.

Debra was one of the two “tool women” here for the start of this deployment. Angela Shields from Virginia was the other. Both of them brought with them an assortment of tools that could be used to set up pens and kennels. If they hadn’t been prepared enough to bring those tools, we would have had a big problem! Both Debra and Angela were also terrific in strategizing how to overcome obstacles in erecting enough shelter space for all the dogs.

Debra leaves tomorrow (Friday) morning for her 7-1/2-hour drive back to Texas. She’ll be home for her birthday party on Saturday. Be safe, Debra, and have a great birthday!


  1. Marcia,

    You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us informed about the Mississippi rescue. I think many of us feel we are right there along side of you.

    The volunteer spotlights are really interesting and it's a pleasure to read and learn about our colleagues.

    Don't worry about the video camara; you'll be an expert before you know it.

    Keep up the good work...extend our thanks to all of the volunteers...and hug the dogs (and cats) for us.

    Lee and Donna Lagomarsino, UAN NDART's

  2. This information may can help you with "Stevie". His real name is Littlun,(pronounced Little un). He is approximately 1 1/2 years old. I was told by the Director of the shelter that his Mother bit him in the face as a young puppy. He was taken to the vet for his eye surgery. He was never offered for adoption because of his blindness, as the Director said he would need specific care.
    In case your curious as to how I know this, I was once Vice President of Raven's Hope Animal Sanctuary before my resignation in December of 2008.
    Thank you for all of your hard and dedication concerning the animals at Raven's. It took a long time for this day to come.
    If I can be of any assistance to you, please e-mail me at
    Please take care of Littlun and know that he is a very special dog! I have pictures of him when he was younger if you would like to see them.
    Please keep the blog updated. There are people concerned about the welfare of these dogs.


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