Friday, November 25, 2011

Why we gave Thanksgiving to the dogs

RedRover Responders volunteers in Hot Springs, Arkansas are happily spending their Thanksgiving holiday caring for the dogs and pups rescued from a puppy mill.

Kevin Boyle, from Dallas, Texas, gave up Thanksgiving at home because, “I have a simple love animals.” Taking care of animals who have been so let down by humans drives these RedRover Responders.
RedRover Responders volunteers give this rescued Chihuahua some special care this Thanksgiving.

After yet another long day tending to the rescued dogs, volunteer Dyann Solsar said, “This is the hardest job you’ll ever love. It can be exhausting, but you feel like you are doing something.”

Volunteer Debra Hutcherson, from Larue, Texas, worked tirelessly to provide the highest level of care for the dogs – feeding, keeping their kennels clean and dry, and providing love and comfort. Giving up time with family and friends during this Thanksgiving week is a sacrifice – but Debra knew that she would not be alone. “I choose to be around people who can and will make a difference.”

175 dogs and tiny puppies could not be more thankful that Debra and the other RedRover Responders made that very same choice this Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful to be Safe

Thanksgiving week, RedRover Responders volunteers are at it again – this time in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where earlier this month, Garland County law enforcement raided a breeding operation known as Happy Times Kennel and retrieved 175 dogs and puppies. The ASPCA, which assisted with the investigation and initial sheltering effort in conjunction with Garland County officials and other animal groups, reported that Chihuahuas, West Highland terriers, Boston terriers, pomeranians and dachshunds were living in their own filth in substandard conditions. Many dogs have skin infections and flea infestations; some have open sores. Dead puppies were found with live puppies. Some of the dogs needed to be immediately transferred to emergency veterinarians for treatment. After all that these dogs have been through, we’re thankful that all of them are safe now and receiving RedRover’s tender loving care this Thanksgiving.

By the end of the week, RedRover will have deployed more than a dozen volunteers. The dogs will get their medical needs tended to, and will get to experience positive interaction with people who care. Each volunteer will work 10 to 12 hour days to ensure that the pups have clean housing, fresh water and healthful food, and the other care they need to recover and thrive.

To stay on top of the dogs’ progress during the week, if you’re a Twitter user, follow @RedRoverBeth. RedRover’s Emergency Services Manager, Beth Gammie, is on-site and will be tweeting throughout the week.

We don’t know how long these dogs have been living in these conditions, but we can imagine that for many, it has been the same neglect, day after day, year after year. For these dogs, we can’t wait to make this Thanksgiving their first truly special one.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Meet the Rowan County RedRover Responders Volunteers

Submitted by RedRover Responders volunteer Tracy J. Clark of Cookeville, Tennessee

For the last week of October, RedRover Responders volunteers are on assignment in Rowan County, Kentucky providing care and shelter for a population of approximately 120 small breed dogs and puppies who were recently seized in a puppy mill raid at the mobile home of a local dog breeder. Due to the pending legal case, we simply cannot at this time share any photographs of the sweet and wonderful dogs on site. But instead, let's introduce you to a few fellow RedRover Responders volunteers who are keeping this shelter sparkling clean and their charges happy, well-fed and learning about love.

Our more-than-capable On Site Team Leader is Andy Bass. Andy hails from Florida where, if they make a hat for it, he wears it! One of Andy’s greatest contributions and a fantastic asset to our team is his willingness to shift on the fly and jump in wherever he is needed. Flexibility, understanding and strength are key to being a good leader and in these and more, Andy is unflappable. Whether escorting a critical care critter to the emergency veterinarian, climbing an I-beam to raise a tarp wall divider to control shelter temperatures, or taking the time out to recognize his team's contributions and sing their praises, Andy is the man for the job. His skill with the animals, his vast amount of experience and his natural easy-going personality have made this deployment as smooth and gentle as warm tropical breeze...regardless of the temperature!

Checking our current list of volunteers on site you'll find Jodi Jenkins, a social worker and hospice care volunteer from Bardstown, Kentucky. Living relatively close to where this seizure occurred and her great love of animals was all the enticement that Jodi needed to deploy. Jodi's partner is carrying the full weight of home responsibilities in Jodi's absence, including caring for the 14-year-old love of their lives, Morgan, whose feeding regime alone takes more than an hour due to his advanced age, special diet and medications. And this isn't the first time Jodi has deployed! In fact, this is her 5th deployment for RedRover. Past responses included the Indiana puppy mill response , Tennessee puppy mill rescue 2011 Arizona hoarding rescue 2011 and North Dakota flooding 2011. And if you don't recognize her name, you'll be sure to recognize her picture. The photograph of Jodi carrying a terrified Bischon Frise out of the horrendous conditions of the Lewisburg, Tennessee puppy mill and into care from February 2011 has graced both the RedRover website and the newsletter.

RedRover Responders volunteer Gary Gray has been around the block a time or two--the deployment block, that is! Gary hails from Nashville, Tennessee where he is a "full time, except Fridays" volunteer for the Office of Veterans Affairs. Gary and his wife share their home with their baby and best friend, a lynx cat. Having also responded to the Indiana puppy mill response amongst others, Gary knows his way around a shelter setup. And being physically challenged does not stop this energetic, happy volunteer with his ready smile, extra large heart and compassionate soul from doing what he loves most: caring for animals in need. "There are plenty of things to be done that don't require crawling on your knees and into a crate," Gary says, and he's right. You should see this man cradle a tiny dachshund in his arms, providing the loving touch and socialization so critical to the enrichment of these starved creatures. It's humbling and beautiful.

New to the scene is Barbara Horvath, a microbiologist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Leaving behind her husband to care for hearth and home (and her two Labrador babies!), Barb had to use her vacation days from work to be able to deploy and experience firsthand the hard work, yet amazingly rewarding experience it is to be an accomplished RedRover Responders volunteer! So what made Barb put her busy life on hold and be one of the first to say "Yes!" when this deployment request came through? The answer, plain and simply, is her love of animals.

Another first time volunteer here in Rowan is Brian Thomas, an IT networking specialist from Canton, Ohio. Although Brian had been a long time member who received his RedRover volunteer training in Dayton, Ohio, Brian found that work obligations, a beloved special needs cat companion and "timing" just made responding to a request impossible. With a broken heart after losing his dear kitty just two weeks ago, Brian knew this time was right. Brian described his decision to come on this deployment as being uplifting, knowing that he now had the time to dedicate himself to other animals in need.

Fran Daily, an Office Supply Deliveryman from Prince William, Virginia had to break his little granddaughter's heart when he tugged her from his knee and kissed her goodbye to deploy to Rowan County. Leaving Becky, his wife of 26 years, his children and his granddaughter wasn't easy for this first time RedRover Responders volunteer. But when Becky said, "You need to do what you love," Fran knew this was where he needed to be. Since setting up a functional shelter is already part of his responsibilities for the Prince William Emergency Shelter (PWES) where he volunteers, Fran knows that the experience he gains on-site here, working with the dogs and participating in a full rescue effort, will serve him greatly in his local volunteer work for PWES.

Barbara Marrow is a "semi-retired" museum consultant from Cincinnati, Ohio. When not volunteering at her local museum you can find Barb working to save animals with her Tri-State County Animal Response Team. When asked, Barbara said that the biggest factor in joining the team on this particular deployment was not only because it is relatively close to home, but that she was finally "ready." Although this amazingly active RedRover Responders volunteer has before deployed on five other assignments (including two large animal rescues, a puppy mill raid and a natural disaster), Barb's involvement had to take a backseat for the last nine months after having been diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. Barb's concern about coming back? Only that she might slow the pace of her fellow volunteers, which I assure you was NOT the case--we could hardly keep up! Barbara is a true inspiration to us all.

There are three other hard-working volunteers who are on-site to care for the Rowan County pups. Maybe you can meet them in a later post!

Me? I'm Tracy J. Clark (currently unemployed which leaves me plenty of time for my passions: animal rescue/transporter/foster and acting) and I come from Cookeville, Tennessee. This is my second deployment for RedRover after taking training in 2009 in Nashville. Patiently waiting for me at home is my saint of a husband, Bob, our four fur kids, my brother and dad. I respond to requests for deployments because, like all of us, I cannot say no to an animal in need and deploy whenever possible. Working toward eradicating puppy mills, ending dog fighting and saving animals from hoarding conditions is a personal goal and one I'm 100 percent committed to. Without proper training, none of that would be possible so I can only thank RedRover for making the volunteer experience as rewarding for us as it is for our charges.