Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Saying "thank you" and "goodbye" to 350 rescued dogs

UAN volunteer Cass Gilbert of
Illinois visits a beautiful Akita
It was with mixed emotions that the UAN volunteers said goodbye to the 350+ four-legged furry friends we have been caring for in Hilliard, Ohio for the past week. We are thrilled that we played a part in liberating these dogs from the horrific conditions they lived in for years. We are proud that we were able to set up and operate a temporary shelter operation in less than ideal conditions. We are amazed at the resiliency these animals showed after all that was done to them by human beings. 
And we are so impressed by the incredible support of the community. The cars kept pulling up with donations: we had mountains of blankets, towels, sheets and dog beds; tables full of cleaning supplies and peanut butter; a wall of paper towels and so much more! Additionally, anywhere from 25 to more than 125 local volunteers arrived on any given day and they were all willing to do whatever we needed them to do, from cleaning cages to washing dishes. We couldn’t have done it without them.
One of the more timid, frightened
of the rescued dogs
On the other hand, we are sad to be leaving our new charges. The dogs will stay at the temporary shelter until various rescue organizations and shelters arrive to move them on to more traditional accommodations while they wait for their forever homes. They will remain under the care of the Clark County Humane Society, led by shelter manager extraordinaire Chuck Jones, who has worked tirelessly for the past several weeks. Chuck was the first person at the shelter every day (seven days a week) and the last person to leave.  He showed amazing patience with the many bumps experienced along the way and his compassion for the animals touched everyone. If we could clone him we would never see another homeless animal!
Assisting Chuck is Kirstin Kiefer, a local volunteer who probably didn’t know what she was getting into when she volunteered (no arm-twisting, honest!) to train with some of the UAN team leaders so she could lead the volunteer caregivers after our departure. The long days and the physical demands of handling so many large and excited dogs didn’t intimidate her at all. She is a natural, and I can’t wait to see her as a UAN volunteer on a future deployment.
A freshly groomed dog explores
his surroundings
The dogs are starting to trickle out. about 25 have left, including three who went to German shepherd rescue in Pennsylvania with UAN volunteers Dale and Diane Buhl. We are hopeful the rest of the dogs will be out of the barn by the end of the week.
So after a weekend of wild weather -- from torrential downpours and flooding to freezing temperatures and high winds -- we take our leave of these lovely dogs. This group of dogs has been by far the most timid I have seen, with many dogs having never experienced human touch, and most with very little socialization.  But in the short time we cared for them, we witnessed some amazing changes and are confident more will occur. And it couldn’t have happened without the UAN volunteers' dedication and hard work. There were many who deployed for the first time, but you would never have known it. They just jumped in and acted like they had been doing this their entire lives, many of them taking on leadership roles themselves. That is a great testament to the experienced volunteers who were great leaders and mentors. The dogs thank you!
Found alone in a dark shed, this dog is
learning to accept human affection
As we were finishing up Sunday evening, the most amazing thing happened: An emergency vehicle with sirens blowing sped past and the entire shelter erupted in one simultaneous howl.  It was at once the most beautiful and heart-rending sound I have ever heard, making all of us laugh but also filling our eyes with tears. It sounded as though they were all saying thank you and goodbye to us, while assuring us they were survivors and will be fine now that they had been liberated from years of neglect. The sound, and the dogs, lifted my heart and nourished my soul and made me grateful to be a part of such an amazing experience.


  1. thank you, to all....from the bottom of my heart.
    sending hugs to all of you and keeping all of the dogs in thoughts and prayers until they're all finally home.

  2. Diane & Dale buhl3/12/11, 3:31 AM

    This is one of those weeks that will never be forgotton- the 3 sheps we brought home (now named Twiggy, Timba and Giselle) have been spayed and had dentals and are doing fabulous. A local groomer has bathed them (as a donation) and they look and act very different then last week. Hopefully, they will go to their forever homes soon. Timba( the big dark colored one and Giselle- the one eyeed dog) both were definately someones pet at one time- they are housebroken and know sit and other basic commands. Twiggy ( the skinny younger one) is playing and doing well with other dogs.

  3. Susan Smith3/12/11, 6:44 PM

    To Diane and Dale,
    You are both amazing people and I was so pleased that those dogs left with you. Thanks for sharing the update. Hope to see you both again.

  4. Susan Smith3/12/11, 6:51 PM

    PS, There are only about 15 dogs remaining (originally over 100) at the Piqua location (same individual as in the Clark County situation). Tomorrow they will hold another Adoption event. Cross your fingers that they all find their forever homes!

  5. I worked last week (as Green Team leader) at the Franklin county fairgrounds, and saw some of the same dogs pictured in this article. I, too, am amazed at the local support - the donations and the volunteers just keep coming! Chuck and Kirsten, among others, are amazing! So many of these dogs are so scared, but its so wonderful to be able to give them the love and care and food and meds and clean quarters that they never got.

    And how wonderful that so many dogs from the Piqua location seizure have been adopted out already!!

    (Evelyn in Cincinnati)

  6. Thank you for all that you have done for these dogs! Jeff has been doing this for over 10 years, and I am beyond happy that finally these dogs were rescued and will now get the redemption that they deserve. If you are interested, you can see the 3 dogs that I pulled from the Piqua facility on my blog at: www.shewholovesdogs.blogspot.com

    Tail Wags of Happiness!
    Emily and her dogs....

  7. Emily! You are such a hoot! Seriously, everyone should read her blog.
    Yesterday I met another foster family for one of the dogs from Clark County. Misha (not sure of the spelling) is a female Aussie/Husky blend. She was with her fosters (who had also volunteered at the Franklin County Fairgrounds) at PetSmart in Miamisburg getting in a little socialing time. What an astonishingly polite girl too! Already she moves toward you to cuddle. My eyes teared up immediately!
    Speaking of PetSmart... all paws up for that massive donation of food, cages, bowls, etc. The PetSmart Charities is AWESOME!!!

  8. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for being part of the rescue for Clark County. I was able to participate most weekends at the Piqua facility. I couldn't go there without crying each time, but it was such a life-altering experience- I am so grateful I was able to be a part of it. I will never forget and forever be changed for the better because of these 4-legged amazing loves.

  9. I worked as a volunteer at the Franklin County Fairgrounds and left each day crying....both happy and sad tears. This was one of the most life changing events in my life. The other volunteers were amazing and the dogs, who had every reason to be angry, showed me what forgiveness means. Thank you to all involved and prayers that each dog gets the loving home they deserve!

  10. Diane & Dale,

    Thank you for putting a name to that beautiful one-eyed shepherd that broke my heart. I noticed her right away on the aspca video of the rescue. I am so glad to have found out what happened to her and know that she is in tender hands now. When my eyes first locked with my GSD at my local rescue I knew that she had to come home with me. I wish that I were permitted to own two dogs in my co-op in NYC because then she'd be mine. But thank you for doing what you do! - Randi

  11. Denise Lenihan3/19/11, 5:42 PM

    Thanks for all of your hard work. I have been volunteering at the fairgrounds and adopted #33 (niko) in green (7 year old Shepard/husky mix with the shaved tail) I have had him since Thursday and he is amazing. He is a very polite boy and has not had a single accident in his crate or house! thank you for taking such great care of him and bringing him into my life. whenever we are on walks, people always ask about his shaved rat looking tail. I use that as an opportunity to tell them about the rescue and what great work UAN is doing. I will be raving about UAN long after niko's tail has grown back to me healthy and beautiful. Thanks again!


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