Thursday, March 24, 2011

Snow and sleet won't stop UAN volunteers from helping animals

Submitted by EARS volunteer Marcia Goodman of Cromwell, Connecticut

EARS volunteers carry a fence
panel needed to build kennels
at the temporary shelter
"Neither snow nor sleet . . ."  That could well be the credo of UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS), given the fierce snowstorm in Flagstaff, Arizona, that blew many of the volunteers into town for this rescue mission earlier this week. But despite the inclement weather, EARS volunteers from Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Utah and as far away as Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Ontario, Canada have made their way to the small town of St. Johns, Arizona, in rural eastern Arizona, to provide temporary shelter for animals in need.

The animals -- more than 250 of them -- were rescued from a hoarding situation yesterday. The animals are mostly dogs, but also cats, geese, a pig and maybe some other species -- we don't have an accurate total count yet. UAN is partnering with The Humane Society of the United States, the Apache County Sheriff's Department (which initiated the rescue and served the arrest warrant) and PetSmart Charities Emergency Relief Waggin' program, which provided tons of critical supplies.

EARS volunteers build a kennel
Day 1 of the deployment was Tuesday, March 22 and it was dedicated to the unglamorous physical labor of carrying and erecting large kennels and doing other necessary preparation for the animals who would arrive the next day. But glamor or not, without the kennels, there would be no rescue, and rescuing animals is why we're all here. It's pretty amazing to watch a temporary shelter transform from an empty room into a home for animals with sturdy, well constructed kennels and filled with plush wood shavings for their floors. These are clean facilities that will be kept clean for the rest of their stay with us.

Day 2, Wednesday, can be called the "Big A" day for the Anticipation of the arrival of the animals. Most of the EARS volunteers continued the preparation at the shelter site, while a few went with The HSUS and other partnering agencies to the hoarding site for the exhausting undertaking of removing the animals from the property after the Sheriff's Office made the arrests and collected any evidence they needed.

Without volunteers to build the
temporary shelter and care for the
animals, the rescue couldn't take place
Back at the shelter, late in the day, as darkness descended on us, the day's Anticipation was met with reward as the first trucks with animals started to arrive -- more than 100 animals with more to arrive tomorrow. Because the sheriff served the hoarder with a criminal warrant, this is a criminal seizure and we cannot yet discuss the particulars or include photos of the animals. Almost all are big dogs, and it was rewarding to see them in comfortable, safe settings and to know that they have hopeful futures.

Today we expect to build more kennels to accommodate the rest of the dogs and other animals who will be arriving in the afternoon. We'll all be eager to get through that work, as well as our chores of feeding the animals and cleaning their cages, so we can have a few minutes to meet the animals already here before the rest of the animals arrive. Extensive vet checks will also take place today for the animals who need it.

On Friday, we should have our first full regular workday of feeding, cage cleaning and, hopefully, the beginning of socialization time.

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