Thursday, April 7, 2011

An homage to UAN volunteers, featuring Deb Hutcherson

Submitted by volunteer Marcia Goodman of Cromwell, Connecticut

UAN shelter manager to tired volunteer near the end of a day: “Do you have time now?”

Tired volunteer to shelter manager: “Sure! What can I do to help?”

This routine exchange says all you need to know about UAN's Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers. The volunteers come from all backgrounds, ranging from experts in animal care to people who just love animals and want to help. What the volunteers have in common is a drive to help animals in distress and a willingness to chip in and do whatever is needed: building cages, feeding and watering animals, cleaning cages, washing dishes, socializing animals as time permits, helping the vet or vet tech, and so on.

Deb carrying fence panels (left)
Volunteer Debra Hutcherson of Larue, Texas personifies this “can-do” attitude. I first met Deb at the UAN Mississippi response in 2010, where, on Day 1, she stood out as one of the people who had brought all the tools needed to build cages and went right to work. That was Deb’s second UAN deployment, and when I interviewed her then, asking why she volunteers with UAN, 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."

Deb carrying puppies into the shelter
Deb has been on several UAN deployments since then, becoming one of Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies’ “go-to” people because she does everything, and does it all well. In fact, I got the idea for this post when I was reviewing photos from the recent UAN emergency sheltering operation in St. Johns, Arizona, and found that I have photos of Deb doing everything from carrying heavy cage parts to cleaning.

Deb building kennels
As far back as the 15th century, literature has contained the Everyman character, an “ordinary” individual with whom all readers can identify and who is often placed in extraordinary circumstances. Well, Deb personifies “Every UAN Volunteer." UAN volunteers identify with her, and she deploys to the extraordinary circumstances of building and running emergency animal shelters. She does every type of work a UAN volunteer can do, and she sets a high standard of excellence.

In focusing on Deb’s “Every UAN Volunteer” participation, this blog pays homage to all the volunteers at the St. Johns rescue, including friends already made and newly made, and also thanks Janell Matthies for organizing us. What a great team!

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