Monday, July 19, 2010

Breaking down and tearing up

Submitted by EARS volunteer Kim Diloreto of Neenah, Wisconsin

On Wednesday, July 14, the news came that the animals removed from the shelter in Baker, Montana, had been surrendered and could be moved to out-of-state shelters where they would have a chance to find forever homes.

Bright and early Thursday morning the shelter was bustling. Sorting dogs, arranging travel crates for cats, checking and rechecking paperwork. The dogs barked a loud chorus, with the coon hound singing lead. The cats paced and rubbed against the sides of their crates. They all sensed something special about this morning.

By nine o’clock The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) transport truck had been backed into the middle of the shelter building. It waited with ramp down, anxious to begin it’s long journey.

UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers gathered the animals one by one. They formed a loose line behind the truck. One at a time the cats, and then the dogs, were carried or led up the ramp for the long ride.  It was a kind of modern day Noah’s ark -- the animals all in a row waiting for their turn to be saved.

By eleven o’clock the truck was gone. The chorus of barks was replaced by conversations that carried softly as volunteers broke down kennels, stacked crates, cleaned, scrubbed and packed things up.

They discussed the animals. Were they comfortable in the transport truck? How long a ride did they have? Would they find good homes?

Off and on, there were tears. “Don’t cry,” they told each other. “If you cry, you’ll make me cry.”

Some of them hugged. Some avoided eye contact, deep in their own private thoughts. Some lingered in front of the empty crate or kennel that had held their favorite cat or dog.

Why do the EARS volunteers do this? Why do they burn their vacation hours, spend their saved dollars, drive hundreds of miles to spend long days washing bowls, cleaning cages and scooping poop?

There are as many answers to that question as there are volunteers. But it’s fair to say they all realize that while nobody can give these animals a guarantee to a happy life, what they can give them -- and what they did give them -- was a chance.

Photos: EARS volunteer Coke Conrad of West Fargo, North Dakota loads cats onto the HSUS rig; Coke and EARS volunteer Marcia Hale of Boise, Idaho say goodbye; Marcia says goodbye to a favorite dog; the UAN team on the last day of the response (clockwise from top left: Debra Hutcherson of LaRue, Texas; Frank Mallon of Cody, Wyoming; Coke Conrad; Kim Diloreto; Marcia Hale; Barb McGonigal of Bloomington, Minnesota with Sugar; Janel Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager. Photos courtesy Kim Diloreto


  1. The last paragraph is what it's all about. Well said!

  2. Another great job by UAN!! Wish I could have made this one. Janet R


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