Thursday, June 16, 2011

Janell, we love you!

Submitted by RedRover Responders volunteer Beth Gammie of Tallahassee, Florida 

How does one person manage the controlled chaos of emergency animal rescue -- from partnering with other agencies and local government officials, to ensuring the animals receive great care under difficult conditions, to handling emergency animal medical care, to leading teams of volunteers and to solving animal behavior issues? If you are Janell Matthies, Emergency Services Manager for RedRover, formerly United Animal Nations, it's done with a great deal of grace, skill and heart.

Janell works with Juliet, a very frightened
dog, during a recent response in Arizona.
Photo: Marcia Goodman
Janell amazed volunteers with her ability to remain calm in a crisis while juggling multiple demands. Volunteer Marcia Goodman worked with Janell on a number of deployments, and was struck by her grace under pressure. "I remember once at the recent Arizona rescue while she was in a kennel with a dog who was shut down, she received an emergency phone call regarding the rescue," Marcia says. "Moments later, while still on the phone, she was approached by a volunteer with a question. With a smile she calmly interrupted the volunteer with, 'Does this need my attention this moment, or can it wait?'" 

Janell and Duke, a dog rescued from
neglect in Arizona. Photo: Marcia Goodman 

This ability to prioritize under pressure, and make good decisions for the animals, while remaining so unflappable, is something we all came to expect from Janell. And she always delivered.

Jennifer Johnston called Janell a "rock star" for being such an amazing leader. Jennifer recently worked on the cat-hoarding rescue here in Florida and said, "This is my first deployment since training and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to work with Janell. She shared her experience and insight, was patient while I got the hang of things, and managed to look out for the needs of the volunteers while doing everything she could for the animals."

Janell and Daisy, a pig rescued in Arizona.
Photo: Marcia Goodman
Janell's compassion for the animals she works to rescue is clear to any volunteer who has worked with her. The animals' well-being is her priority, and her love for them showed up in many ways. Janell crawled into a kennel with a dog in distress to comfort the animal. She dropped what she was doing to deal with medical concerns volunteers have for the a sick animal. She cuddled with a 650 pound rescued pig with pure delight. Animals under Janell's care just knew she loved them.

No one on deployment worked harder than Janell. She was the first on site in the morning, and the last to leave--and was in motion the whole time. How she was able to keep up such non-stop energy was a mystery to volunteers. I, for one, suspect Janel may actually be fueled by a uranium pellet.

Janell taking a rare break at the
temporary shelter in Florida, where she
tended to 700 cats, many with serious
health problems. Photo: Beth Gammie
Janell will be leaving RedRover to do similar work for another animal organization. We will miss her, but know that our paths will cross during our efforts to bring animals from crisis to care. 
From all the volunteers, Janell, we want you to know how much we appreciate you. From your goofy sense of humor, to the things you taught us about animal care, to your freaky sense of calm in a crisis -- you are simply amazing and we love you.


  1. Thanks for this write-up Beth! We will miss you Janell!

  2. Marcia (UAN Volunteer in Connecticut)6/16/11, 7:56 PM

    Another excellent blog entry, Beth. Janell, I'm so sorry to see you leave RedRover but so pleased for you that you have a great opportunity. The best to you!!!

  3. Janell is my hero and this tribute to her brings tears to my eyes. What an amazing woman with such inner resources of strength. She is beloved by her EARS volunteers and will continue to inspire and empower folks wherever she goes. Thank you Beth, and thank you, Janell.

  4. Janelle was an amazing and professional beacon of light in the overwhelming rescue of the 700 Cats of Florida. Always had a smile ready for others, even where there was very little to smile about! Best of success to you in your new pathway.

  5. Beautifully written and I thank you so much for posting it for us. Janell has truly been an inspiration and wonderful teacher. She has it all together: skill, knowledge, ability, and insight! Look forward to partnering with her in the future. Thank you, Janell!


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