Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shifting gears ... from animal rescue to animal care

Submitted by EARS volunteer Marcia Goodman of Cromwell, Connecticut

First, here’s an update. I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that the rescuers had left traps for dogs who roamed free on the property and who they could not catch. Today, the rescuers brought in 15 more dogs from the traps. These include the newborn puppy that Judi is bottle feeding in the photo at right.

The total at the shelter is now about 180 dogs. It’s easy to see why planning an emergency shelter is such challenging work. As of two days ago, we built a shelter expecting between 80 and 100 dogs. Today we have 180 dogs in the shelter. Kudos to Stacey Harris, the EARS field leader, and her counterpart from HSUS for reacting to the sudden change in numbers and making sure we could accommodate all 180 dogs in humane living conditions!

Tough question: What can I write about today, Wednesday, given that it’s hard to beat yesterday for excitement. Today, everyone’s focus has turned to the home front, establishing a procedure to clean cages, lay down fresh wood chips, and feed and water the dogs in the most supportive and efficient way possible. It’s very cool to be doing this work for these dogs who probably never received this type of support or attention before today, but it hardly makes for exciting reading.

I think it will be a lot more interesting to focus on the volunteers, to put faces to the red EARS shirts. So, over the past two days, I’ve begun interviewing the volunteers to find out a little more about them. A wonderful camaraderie develops among EARS volunteers at deployments such as this one. A passion for animals bring people together and bonds us even though we might have nothing else in common.

I’ll begin with the volunteers who are completing their deployment today and tomorrow. Let’s start with Jerry Lousteau (pictured at right and below), UAN’s only Mississippi volunteer so far in this deployment, and also our only male volunteer. This is his first deployment with UAN, though he’s volunteered at two other emergency shelters before this. He is also the shelter manager of the Mississippi Board of Animal Health.

One word that aptly describes Jerry is “diverse." He is an entrepreneur with a variety of interests that often revolve around animals. From owning two radio stations (on which he announces lost-and-found animals, with an 80 to 90% success rate) to training dogs and recruiting dogs for films and commercials, such as “My Dog Skip," Jerry says that he adopted his first dog in his mid-30s when he was having a mid-life crisis and decided that a dog would be a great friend to have. He got started in animal care because of his love of his animals and the sheer joy he found in improving the life of a dog.

Jerry is also very much a homebody. He loves his home in a suburb of Jackson, Mississippi, and seeks out deployments and other ventures that are close to his home or to his birthplace in New Orleans. This deployment was a great fit.

At this deployment, Jerry quickly became known for being a hard worker and for loving to chip in and help wherever the need arose. He gets great satisfaction from dealing with animals on all levels, saying “I’m not just in it for a red t-shirt.”

This is the second UAN deployment for Inga Fricke of Inwood, West Virginia (pictured at right), who has also previously been deployed by HSUS. In 2001, Inga abandoned a budding career as an environmental attorney to work for a humane society because she had previously volunteered at a shelter and loved it. Inga is now Shelter Manager with the Loudoun County Department of Animal Care and Control in Virgina.

I asked Inga how she feels about this deployment and she said, “Amazing!” At home, much of her shelter work is day-to-day management. “Here is the real down and dirty; it’s great to get hands-on work with the dogs,” she says. She views each deployment not just as an opportunity to help animals, but also to learn. “It’s work experience,” she says. “Watching a shelter like this come together gives me confidence that I can do it back home.”

Inga has been a real go-to person in this deployment. We all quickly learned that she has in-depth expertise in animal sheltering and a pragmatic approach to making it all work.

In future blog entries, I’ll post day-to-day news and continue highlighting the EARS volunteers at this deployment.

1 comment:

  1. Keep up the great work, Marcia! We miss you!


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