Monday, September 24, 2012

A man and his piglet

Honey, a two-month-old piglet, was found alone on a levee surrounded by Hurricane Isaac's floodwater in Plaquemines Parish. Lori Wilson, in conjunction with the local animal control, brought him back to Rescue Ranch, her equine sanctuary and rescue group, where RedRover Responders volunteers were stationed to help care for equines affected by flooding.

RedRover Responders volunteer Howard feeds Honey the piglet, and  so begins a special relationship.
Howard Edelstein, a RedRover Responders volunteer who was part of the team helping Rescue Ranch, took an immediate liking to Honey. "He's a cute guy," said Howard. "He was there in a cage, so little and cute. I enjoyed the opportunity to give him more attention."

Once, when Howard was holding Honey, he grew so relaxed in his arms that he fell asleep...and then pooped.
Howard and a deeply relaxed Honey, just before he pooped on Howard.
Lori's plans were to try to find Honey a new home, but there weren't any true pig sanctuaries nearby. So Howard and his girlfriend back home coordinated with Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland. Howard has been volunteering with Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary for some time, and knew that the pigs have a large area at the sanctuary with a stream and pond, and get wonderful care. He was delighted when he learned that they would take Honey.

As much as Howard didn't relish the idea of renting a car and driving 18 hours with Honey, it didn't take him long to decide that a permanent home for Honey was worth it. He started driving at 2:30 in the morning so he could get as much of the drive done as possible while it was dark and quiet out. Honey snuggled in his carrier with his bedding, and every couple hours Howard would pull over and give him refreshments, clean out his carrier and let him stretch.
Honey stayed comfortable and happy on his 18 hour trek to his new, permanent home.
All along the way, Howard and his amenable swine companion entertained themselves with comedy, Broadway show tunes and 60's and 70's classic rock from the Sirius radio, and Howard talked to Honey about all sorts of topics. Once in a while, Honey would even grunt back. It took two Red Bulls, a Mountain Dew and a Gatorade to make it all the way.

Since arriving at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, Honey has since been renamed Isaac. He has also taken yet another road trip – this time, it was a six-hour round trip to and from a veterinary hospital to get neutered, a procedure from which he has recovered quickly.

Isaac, the piglet formerly known as Honey, enjoys his plush new digs at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary.
Photo credit: Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary

Howard went to visit him last Thursday, and was glad to share that Isaac is already getting bigger, but he's still looking really cute.

"Now he's going to have a fabulous life," says Howard. "The hurricane was so awful for so many animals. While volunteering at Rescue Ranch, we saw horses with chemical burns from flood water and other sad sights. But for Isaac, the hurricane meant that he will get to live his life as one of the luckiest pigs around."

Howard went above and beyond in his service to RedRover and to Isaac the piglet, and for that, we all give some grateful grunts.

Another victim of the storm, a special dog named JJ, is undergoing extensive care after suffering serious burn wounds.

Learn more about JJ >>

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lachute, Québec dog rescue: one year anniversary

By Jennifer Johnston, RedRover Responders volunteer Guest contributor and volunteer Communications Assistant

September 17th, 2011. It was one of the first chilly Autumn nights in Western Québec. Despite being far from city lights and seeing a bright, gorgeous moon rise, it was pitch black at 2 a.m. The only real light we had came from inside the open garage doors of the main emergency shelter building and a few headlamps some well-prepared staff and volunteers were wearing.

We were a group of many colours: lead agency MAPAQ (Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec) staff in cyan blue vests, law enforcement in somber shades of brown and black, Humane Society International (HSI) staff in forest green shirts, medical staff and volunteers in baby blue paper sterile gowns, and RedRover Responders volunteers from Canada and the U.S. in our trademark red shirts.

Volunteer briefing led by Connie Brooks.

What brought us together was soon to become a precedent-setting case in Québec, a part of Canada called “the best province [in which] to be an animal abuser” by the Animal Legal Defence Fund in 2011. Coordinated by MAPAQ, local law enforcement, and HSI, over 600 dogs and puppies were about to be rescued from a life of neglect at the Paws R Us breeding facility west of Montréal.

After days of non-stop construction – kennels for breeds of all sizes, a nursery for newborns, whelping rooms for moms about to deliver, isolation areas for the sick, and a clinic space for medical treatmentwe waited in the dark between the two temporary shelter buildings for the first truck to arrive. We were told to expect about 150 dogs and puppies in the first wave.

RedRover Responders volunteers prepare crates for the dogs' arrival.

From the moment the truck door opened the group became a focused hive of activity. As dogs were offloaded they were catalogued and deployed to various parts of the shelter depending on their size, age, medical condition, and if they had pups. Looking into the crates as we gingerly carried or carted each one, what we saw was heart-breaking; scared, anxious, tired dogs with a host of medical conditions.

The anxious, tired dogs suffered from a host of medical conditions.

"This was not only the largest dog rescue in Canadian history, but it also involved some of the most inhumane conditions that our Animal Rescue Team has ever encountered,” said Lauren Scott, from HSI.

We worked all night and into the morning to finish that first truck. Most of that night is a blur to me now. I recall the over-riding sense of urgency to get these dogs into their temporary homes – not only out of concern for them and wanting to get them into more comfortable conditions, but also because we knew there were more trucks to come and those trucks were going to be just as full. 

Shelter building #2: medium breed dogs.

Over the next couple of days we unloaded another two full 18-wheelers, with a dash of sleep and a quick bite in between each one. Day blurred into night and back to daylight again. Staff and volunteers seemed tireless as they managed the intake of an astonishing array of breeds; from tiny, delicate, shivering Maltese moms with pups so small they looked like baby gerbils, to huge St. Bernards with skeptical eyes and crates so large they needed a team to carry them, and seemingly every size and breed of dog in between.

Volunteers provided comfort and care for the scared dogs.

From the moment a dog was brought into the shelter the virtually-endless cycle of care started and everyone had a list of tasks to keep them busy. Cleaning crates, feeding, providing fresh water, getting dogs and puppies to the vet for assessments, and documenting every step for use in the pending cruelty case against the owners of the breeding facility. This work consumed us for days and often followed us into our dreams at night.

RedRover Responders volunteer Howard tending to some of the many puppies born before and after the dogs were seized.

As with all deployments, RedRover Responders volunteers came to Lachute, Québec ready to do whatever necessary to bring animals from crisis to care. One year later, we know we participated in a landmark animal cruelty case that will have a positive impact on generations of animals.

To learn more about the Paws R Seizure, check out these resources:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Somebody get me an appointment with a chiropractor!"

By Linda Bak, RedRover Development Manager

Holy cow, this is hard work. I knew it would be. This is my first deployment, and so far I've spent two incredibly long hard days taking care of animals, and two nights sleeping on a cot at the animal shelter in a room with a pet snake. Yes, a pet snake named Smiley. 

Home sweet home with Smiley the snake
RedRover Responders is here at the request of Rescue Ranch, an equine rescue group in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. They have taken in many equines and other animals from areas flooded by Hurricane Isaac. We are here to take care of their pre-storm population as well as some of the animals that have been brought in since the storm, so they can concentrate on the intense search and rescue efforts.

While here, I've learned some interesting back story about the history between Rescue Ranch and RedRover.

During Hurricane Katrina, Lori Wilson, the owner of Rescue Ranch, lost everything. While she was helping to rescue horses from flooded areas – 67 in all – she lost her home, her barn, all the fencing on her property and her dog. Through it all, she continued to go out on rescue missions when she was called on for help. She blew the engine in her truck and her trailer was destroyed. Seeing the incredible effort she was making to help the animals, the National Guard built a perimeter fence around her property to keep the horses she rescued safe.

After Hurricane Katrina, RedRover had the great privilege of being able to offer more than $250,000 in grants to deserving organizations to help them recover. On Christmas Eve, Lori was notified that she would be receiving a grant to enable her to get a new truck, trailer and tractor so she could continue her heroic rescue efforts.

Lori Wilson, Howard Edelstein, and Linda Bak at Rescue Ranch in Belle Chasse, Louisiana

Shortly after, Lori and four other volunteers from Rescue Ranch trained and joined the RedRover Responders volunteer corps. While teaching a summer camp for kids at the ranch, she taught them about the importance of having an evacuation plan for their family and their pets. She and others distributed RedRover's disaster preparedness brochures and talked to everyone they could about the importance of including animals in disaster plans. She was even given an award by the Sheriff's department for her outreach.

A few years later, Lori intersected with RedRover in a different way when a horse named Shooter came into her care. Shooter was apparently kicked in the head by a donkey and needed his eye removed. RedRover Relief provided a grant for Shooter's surgery, and a local veterinarian donated a prosthetic eye. Shooter is still living at Rescue Ranch, boarded there by his family.

Linda and Shooter, a horse that RedRover Relief helped to save many years ago.
Lori said that if she did not receive that grant to get a new truck, trailer and tractor, she would not be doing this today. RedRover helped give her and Rescue Ranch a second chance. She paid it forward by helping the people and animals in her community.

The way all these pieces tie in together is very inspirational to me, and is driving me to continue to work as hard as I can while I'm here, helping Rescue Ranch get through the difficulties that Hurricane Isaac has thrust upon them and their community.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hurricane Isaac: Photos

On September 1, five RedRover Responders volunteers traveled to Alexandria, Louisiana, to provide emergency sheltering for animal victims of Hurricane Isaac. Volunteers assisted evacuated pet owners with the daily care of their pets, and provided food, water and comfort for pets whose families were not located nearby until they could be reunited. Over the course of 3 days, our volunteers cared for nearly 150 animals.

Here are a few of our photos from the emergency shelter, taken by RedRover Responders volunteer Kevin Boyle.

Rusty, missing home.

RedRover Responders volunteers Dee and Paula with Zeus and Achilles.

A beautiful husky at the emergency shelter.

RedRover Responders volunteer Kevin spends time with Coco and Trixie.

Despite the storm, Buddy shows a smile.

RedRover Responders volunteer Bob takes Vanilla for a walk.

RedRover Responders volunteer Diane gives Trixie a belly rub.

Interested in becoming a RedRover Responders volunteer? Learn more >>

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A rescue within a rescue

By Linda Bak, RedRover Development Manager

There's a first time for everything. For me, this is my first deployment, my first time sleeping in an animal shelter, and my first time sleeping in a room with a snake.

Our gracious accommodations at the animal shelter for the first few nights of our deployment, with Smiley the snake.

Last night a water main burst in the animal shelter where we are staying. The RedRover Responders volunteer I'm here with, Howard, walked out of our room into puddles of water everywhere. In one of the rooms, water was coming down like a waterfall on the poor dogs that the animal control officer had brought in earlier.

Harold wasted no time to leap into action. He pulled the crates and dogs out of the water right away. Wow, that's one way to start your morning! Thankfully the dogs are fine.

The part of the shelter where we stayed was flooded and the water had to be turned off. As of right now, they are still working on fixing the water main and they have to ship in water for the animals. So, sadly, we said our goodbyes to our roommate Smiley the snake and headed over to Rescue Ranch for another day of grueling manual labor. (Another first: I never drank so many fluids in my life! On our first day, we both were soaked through with sweat within 10 minutes.)

Linda snuggles with a friendly miniature horse. Photo courtesy Rescue Ranch.

While Rescue Ranch is built to withstand Category 2 and lower hurricanes, the storm still blew water into the
stalls, so we have been stripping the stalls of all the wet shavings and dumping them in a far pasture
- not to mention the regular daily mucking, feeding and watering. It makes me thankful for my (low maintenance) little house, my dog and sweet kitty.

Linda and Lori walk horses at Rescue Ranch. Photo courtesy Rescue Ranch.

Thankfully we were able to get a hotel room to stay in tonight, and boy am I looking forward to a clean shower and a bed to sleep in!

RedRover at Rescue Ranch

Just as one team of RedRover Responders volunteers returned home from Louisiana after caring for animals displaced by Hurricane Isaac, another team has arrived in Belle Chasse to help equines rescued from the flooding.

Two RedRover Responders volunteers are at Rescue Ranch to help care for nearly 40 horses, miniature donkeys and ponies who are being fostered at the ranch or who were rescued during Hurricane Isaac. 

They will spend five days providing these animals with the special care and attention that RedRover Responders volunteers are known for.

Stay tuned for more photos and stories from Rescue Ranch.

Friday, August 31, 2012

RedRover provides emergency sheltering for pets displaced by Hurricane Isaac

August 31, 2012 – California-based RedRover ( has sent trained emergency sheltering volunteers from across several Gulf states to care for animal victims of Hurricane Isaac. These animals are pets rescued from the flooding or brought to the emergency shelter upon evacuation with their families.

RedRover Responders volunteers will provide sheltering assistance for more than 200 animals who were displaced by the storm and are now residing at a temporary shelter. RedRover has deployed five volunteers to the emergency sheltering operation, traveling from Texas, Mississippi and Florida to help the animals.

Read the full press release >>

Hurricane Isaac Pet Shelters and Resources

RedRover Responders volunteers are on their way to Louisiana to to provide animal emergency sheltering assistance for animals displaced by Hurricane Isaac.

We have compiled a list of currently available emergency shelters and resources. Please contact the shelters directly for more information about what they can provide, their available space, and what pet owners need to do or bring. Read more >>

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Remembering Hurricane Katrina

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana and Mississippi – the largest and most costly natural disaster to hit the United States. Katrina touched off RedRover's (known then as United Animal Nations) largest, longest and most arduous animal rescue and relief effort ever. In its emergency response to both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, RedRover's team of more than 400 volunteers, including 15 veterinarians, from 40 states and Canada cared for and rescued 2,100 animals in 6 locations in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Hundreds more people made donations that enabled us to purchase needed supplies, equipment and medicine, and to support animal agencies that were decimated by the storm.

RedRover's 2-month-long Hurricane Katrina response ended on October 22, as staff and a handful of volunteers closed the emergency shelter in Monroe, Louisiana, where they had been caring for more than 200 dogs rescued from New Orleans. More than four dozen dogs were reunited with their owners, and those who weren't reclaimed were transferred to long-term foster homes. RedRover also disbursed $255,000 in hurricane relief grants to bring additional help to animal victims and the people who care for them.

Now, seven years later, our thoughts are with those who face impact from Tropical Storm Isaac. Families threatened by the storm are encouraged to bring pets along when they evacuate. Read our press release for pet disaster preparedness tips.


New Orleans: Water Rescue Operation
An exhausted and starving puppy, finally safe in the care of rescuers.
An exhausted and starving puppy, finally safe in the care of rescuers.
Photo courtesy of Stewart Cook, IFAW
United Animal Nations, IFAW and Code 3 Associates have worked together to rescue hundreds of animals from the flood-ravaged streets and homes of New Orleans.
RedRover, IFAW and Code 3 Associates have worked together to rescue hundreds of animals from the flood-ravaged streets and homes of New Orleans.
Photo courtesy of Stewart Cook, IFAW

Jackson, Mississippi: RedRover Temporary Shelter  
Reno-based volunteer Jane Hollingsworth "suits up" every day to take care of five puppies with ringworm. Jane took a month off to help the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Reno-based volunteer Jane Hollingsworth "suits up" every day to take care of five puppies with ringworm. Jane took a month off to help the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Photo by Anne Chadwick Williams
Billy Mac, and evacuee from Mendenhall, MS, spends quality playtime with his dog, Nikki. EARS volunteers describe him as a "very doting, very grateful" owner.
Billy Mac, and evacuee from Mendenhall, MS, spends quality playtime with his dog, Nikki. RedRover Responders volunteers describe him as a "very doting, very grateful" owner.
Photo by Anne Chadwick Williams
As a welcome rain falls, veterinarian Sophie Grundy talks to a young evacuee and her baby sister. The family has two Siberian huskies staying at the shelter.
As a welcome rain falls, veterinarian Sophie Grundy talks to a young evacuee and her baby sister. The family has two Siberian huskies staying at the shelter.
Photo by Anne Chadwick Williams
Livia McRee, a newly-trained EARS volunteer from Palo Alto, California, enjoys taking a walk with some smaller residents of the Jackson shelter. Livia was rarely caught without her wide-brimmed hat.
Livia McRee, a newly-trained RedRover Responders volunteer from Palo Alto, California, enjoys taking a walk with some smaller residents of the Jackson shelter. Livia was rarely caught without her wide-brimmed hat.
Photo by Anne Chadwick Williams
Thanks to generous donations from individuals and businesses, the EARS shelters have all the supplies they need.
Thanks to generous donations from individuals and businesses, the RedRover shelters have all the supplies they need.
Photo by Anne Chadwick Williams

Monroe, Louisiana: RedRover Temporary Shelter  
Angel was brought to the Monroe shelter after spending three weeks in the New Orleans floodwaters. Here, Virginia-based EARS volunteer Linda Barber gives Angel some much-deserved attention.
Angel was brought to the Monroe shelter after spending three weeks in the New Orleans floodwaters. Here, Virginia-based RedRover Responders volunteer Linda Barber gives Angel some much-deserved attention.
Photo by Anne Chadwick Williams
Barbara Jones, DVM, is spending 13 days in Monroe to help provide medical care for the animals displaced by the hurricane. Jones' trip was sponsored by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights.
Barbara Jones, DVM, is spending 13 days in Monroe to help provide medical care for the animals displaced by the hurricane. Jones' trip was sponsored by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights.
In the wee hours of the morning on September 20, EARS volunteers unloaded 134 dogs who were tranferred from the main staging area in Gonzales, Louisiana. One dog, a yellow Lab named Toby, was reunited with his family later that day.
In the wee hours of the morning on September 20, 2005, RedRover Responders volunteers unloaded 134 dogs who were tranferred from the main staging area in Gonzales, Louisiana. One dog, a yellow Lab named Toby, was reunited with his family later that day.

Take your pets with you when you evacuate. Share our pet disaster preparedness tips on Facebook >>

Monday, August 20, 2012

What an empty puppy mill looks like

Let's just get right to the point:

This is where the rusty cages used to be, stacked two high, with about three dogs in each cage. In just a few days, the dogs' lives have changed forever. This empty room represents freedom for the dogs who used to face living all their days, weeks, months and years here.

The Humane Society of Richland County did an impressive job leading this emergency response, diverting resources from their own shelter to ensure that operations at the emergency shelter ran smoothly. In a situation like this, especially given that we were sheltering on-site, it was essential that the animals are moved out as quickly as possible. Given that many of the dogs are ill or injured and will need rehabilitation before they can be adopted, the best option for the animals was to transfer them to groups who could handle their special needs and take the time needed to find each of them the right home. The Humane Society of the United States played a key role on the ground and remotely to coordinate lightning-fast placement of the dogs into approved rescue groups, and together with PetSmart Charities, they are helping to fund the dogs' ongoing veterinary care to mitigate the burden on the receiving organizations.

Please visit the websites below of the organizations who received these dogs. Please consider adopting any of the animals they have available, as they are all deserving of loving homes.

  • CHA Animal Shelter
  • Cincinnati SPCA
  • Cleveland Animal Protective League
  • Friendship Animal Protective League of Lorain County
  • Humane Society of Greater Dayton
  • The Humane Society of Richland County
  • Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation
  • Ohio Pet Placement Foundation, Inc
  • Public Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) of Ohio
  • Shar Pei Savers
  • Star-Mar Rescue
  • Toledo Area Humane Society
  • Washington Animal Rescue League
  • WolfSpirit's Toy Breed Puppy Mill Rescue

  • RedRover is so honored to have been able to play a role in emptying this room and forever changing the lives of more than 250 animals. 

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    From No Hope to a Bright Future

    Just days ago, nearly 300 dogs were in a building in the middle of cornfields. They were living their lives in rusty wire cages stacked two cages high, three dogs to a cage. They had no hope of anything changing for them.

    How quickly the world has changed for these dogs! An army of people have descended upon them to give them clean water, clean food, clean air to breathe... And they're getting veterinary care and attention. But most importantly, the dogs will leave, bound for a bright future in homes with people who will care about them and treasure them.

    RedRover Responders volunteers arrived on site this morning and hit the ground running. There was no time for an extended briefing. Volunteers jumped right in and began caring for the dogs, and one by one, gently taking them from the cages where they have spent most of their lives to get vet checks and treatments. Many of the dogs have heart-breaking eye conditions, skin infections, and other illnesses and injuries commonly encountered in puppy mill and hoarding situations.

    Volunteer Katie works alongside a community volunteer to get the dogs' paperwork ready so they can go to approved rescue groups.

    The best part was that nearly as fast as the volunteers could get the dogs tagged and their paperwork readied, they were going out the door to the wonderful approved placement groups that are taking them to continue their rehabilitation and find their forever homes. By 1 p.m., 76 dogs had already left the buildings.

    This beautiful Shar-pei poses for a media camera on her way out to a rescue group.
    By the end of the day, there were only 94 dogs left! Out of an operation that started with 240 Chihuahuas, 174 have made it out; and out of the original 40 Shar-pei, 12 are on their way to better lives. The remaining animals will have similarly bright futures as other groups come to pick them up over the next few days.

    We are so grateful to have the opportunity to serve these dogs and this community. Volunteers from the community worked long and hard as soon as word got out that there were animals in need and before RedRover arrived, and their efforts are a large reason of why this first day of RedRover's deployment was so fruitful in moving animals off the property and onto better lives. Thank you to The Humane Society of Richland County for all their support and coordination, and to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for their tremendous effort to provide vital veterinary care and placement coordination. The HSUS and PetSmart Charities are funding the medical care for these dogs to alleviate the burden on the rescue groups and shelters that are taking them.

    For those interested in adopting or fostering these dogs, some of the groups who received animals are listed below:

    Please keep in mind that all these groups had animals in need of foster/adoption before this emergency happened, so please consider helping one of those animals, too. 

    As always, we are in awe of the RedRover Responders volunteers who dropped everything in their lives to travel to this deployment and give so much of themselves to the animals and to this community. Thank you also to the RedRover donors and supporters who make this effort possible.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Hundreds of dogs surrendered by owner on deathbed

    August 16, 2012 – RedRover, a California-based nonprofit organization, is deploying volunteers from 9 states and Canada to care for 240 Chihuahuas and 40 Shar-Peis in Richland County, Ohio. The dogs’ owner and local breeder, Edith Buchko, is in failing health and surrendered custody of the dogs to the Humane Society of Richland County. Buchko’s son alerted RedRover of the dogs’ situation and the need for emergency care.

    Read the full press release >>

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    Courtroom victory for the cats of Caboodle Ranch

    Good news!

    The 700 cats rescued from Caboodle Ranch are another step closer towards the lives they deserve, thanks to a courtroom win last week. RedRover Responders volunteers deployed three times to provide sheltering and care for the cats earlier this year after they were seized from the property.

    The Third Judicial Circuit of the Madison County court has transferred ownership of the cats to the Madison County Sheriff. Read more about the Court's findings >>

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

    Update on Ohio

    In June 2012, RedRover Responders helped a small humane society achieve its mission and a kindly woman regain control of her life during its deployment to Brown County, Ohio. What's more, RedRover ushered 66 dogs and puppies on to healthier and happier lives.

    The Brown County Humane Society (BCHS) asked the RedRover Responders for help with 66 dogs who were going to be surrendered by their owner. Living in extreme poverty, Ruth Wilder could no longer afford to feed and provide even the minimal care she had managed. BCHS president Leslie Zureick was committed to rescuing the dogs from difficult hoarding conditions and keeping her promise to Wilder that the dogs would not be euthanized.

    BCHS reached out to RedRover for help: with seizing the dogs, sheltering them and assisting with placement. With little resources and expertise in field seizures and emergency sheltering, the tiny but committed Brown County Humane Society needed some help in keeping its promise to Wilder.
    Emergency Services Manager Beth Gammie coached Zuerick on applying for assistance from PetSmart Charities and the logistics of conducting a field seizure. Twelve RedRover Responders volunteers travelled to Ohio to set up a temporary shelter and created a hospitable temporary home for the beleaguered dogs. RedRover Responders volunteers assisted Jenny Cowdery, DVM, with the intake exams and vaccinations. And for the next 12 days, the volunteers coaxed the timid and scared dogs back to life.

    RedRover Responders volunteers also played an instrumental role in placing the dogs, puppies and pregnant females with rescue groups. RedRover Responders volunteer Nova Keaton conducted outreach to rescue groups who might be interested in taking some of the rescued dogs into their programs. Marcia Goodman, a RedRover Responders volunteer Communication Assistant, took adoption photos of each dog for the BCHS’s special Facebook page to showcase the dogs to rescue groups.

    The work of the RedRover Responders made a huge impact not only on the animals, and the BCHS, but for Wilder who surrendered her animals to give them a better life. With the peace of mind from knowing her animals were taken care of, Wilder is no longer struggling to care for nearly 70 dogs practically on her own. Reports indicate she has cleaned up her house and is optimistic about her future. In a follow up news story on the case, a local station checked back in with Wilder, and Zureick of the BCHS. It turns out that Wilder kept her promise to no longer hoard dogs. Last week, when a stray dog appeared on her property, she reached out to the BCHS to come pick up the dog, knowing it would be cared for and put up for adoption.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    Ohio puppies on the path to better lives

    RedRover Responders volunteer Donna Lagomarsino says goodbye to the 3 mamas and 16 puppies she cared for on this deployment. Donna medicated and cleaned each puppy daily, watched for signs of infection and soothed the mothers. Her peaceful and calm nature spread throughout the "Baby Barn," helping the tiny pups and moms settle in comfortably until rescue groups could take them in.

    We're so thankful to be in Ohio to help change the course of these dogs' lives. It feels good to know that these puppies won't have to experience the squalor and misery that their mothers did. RedRover Responders will continue to work with rescue groups to send the Ohio dogs on their way to loving new homes.

    Thank you, Donna, for taking such good care of these dogs. Just look at their happy faces!

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    VIDEO: Update on the dogs

    RedRover Responders volunteers are in Georgetown, Ohio, to provide temporary sheltering and loving care for dogs who were rescued after their owner surrendered them. Final head count (or "wagging tail count") on Monday was 44 dogs, 22 puppies.

    Watch the video below of a RedRover Responders volunteer taking a dog in for vetting; the dog might be pregnant!

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    VIDEO: Dog Barney with RedRover Responders volunteer

    Barney is an older dog who was rescued from unsanitary and dangerous conditions on private property in Brown County, Ohio. RedRover Responders volunteers are caring for the 65+ dogs and puppies; a veterinarian on the scene determined that many of the dogs suffered from mange and medical ailments such as skin infections and untreated wounds.

    PHOTOS: RedRover Responders in Brown County, Ohio

    Our first batch of photos from the hoarding situation in Ohio have been posted to our Facebook page.

    View more photos

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    VIDEO: Dogs rescued from hoarding situation in Ohio

    RedRover Emergency Services Manager Beth Gammie describes the dogs' unsanitary living conditions with little or no protection from the elements. A veterinarian on the scene determined that many of the dogs suffered from mange, parvovirus and medical ailments such as skin infections and untreated wounds. "These dogs deserve better, and we're here to make that happen."

    Read the press release:

    VIDEO: RedRover Responders in Ohio

    RedRover Responders volunteers are caring for 65+ neglected dogs rescued from unsanitary and dangerous conditions in Brown County, Ohio.

    RedRover Emergency Services Manager Beth Gammie talks about a beagle who has just given birth in the temporary shelter: "Her puppies are never going to know the kind of life that she led."

    Read the full press release:

    Volunteers caring for 65 neglected dogs rescued from Ohio hoarder

    RedRover Responders volunteers have deployed to operate a temporary shelter in Brown County, Ohio, for approximately 50 dogs and 15 puppies found living in unsanitary and dangerous conditions on private property in Georgetown.

    Seven RedRover Responders volunteers have already traveled from Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Virginia to care for the rescued animals at the temporary shelter. Four more volunteers will arrive later this week.

    Read the full press release.

    Approximately 50 dogs and 15 puppies were found living in unsanitary and dangerous conditions on private property in Georgetown, Ohio.

    Monday, April 30, 2012

    RedRover Responders Communications Assistants: Getting the Scoop on Deployments!

    Our Communication Assistants (CAs) are volunteers that do the critical work of capturing and conveying the work that RedRover Responders volunteers do at emergency responses. Their photographs and stories appear in our Emergency Response Journal, in photo albums on RedRover’s Facebook page and other RedRover publications, showing the everyday scenes that we all experience while on deployment: bonding with the animals, bringing the scared animals to the front of the cage through caring attention and portraying what being on a deployment is like. We simply could not show what RedRover Responders volunteers do without our Communication Assistants.

    Volunteer Debbie Ferguson has been a Communications Assistant with RedRover for two years and loves the work. Debbie, who loves to write and photograph, enjoys the assignment because “I get to use my creative side.” Further, she knows that doing this work makes a difference for the RedRover Responders program. “It is incredibly impactful. The stories get at the emotions we are feeling and make the volunteers at home feel like they are part of the deployment, or want to be a part of it.”

    Marcia Goodman, from Cromwell, Connecticut, has also volunteered as a Communications Assistant on several deployments. Her beautiful photographs show volunteers bonding with animals, and the animals responding to the volunteers’ love and kindness, even after being extremely fearful and shut-down.

    Marcia’s favorite photo? “That’s easy. It’s the photo of volunteer Janet Roush and Hope at the DeKalb, Mississippi, hoarding deployment. Hope hid in the rear corner of her kennel for the first few days. She was so skinny and depressed.” Despite the kind attention from other volunteers, Hope remained scared and in hiding. Marcia was there when Janet walked into the kennel and started talking to her. “Hope slowly walked across the kennel to Janet and smushed up against her. Even now, looking at that photo tugs at my heartstrings because it brings back that wonderful moment.”

    View more of our Communications Assistants' photos by visiting RedRover on Facebook and browsing the blog archives.

    Are you a RedRover Responders volunteer who loves to write or take photographs? Send an email to Leili Khalessi, RedRover’s Communications Manager at

    Friday, March 30, 2012

    RedRover Responders back in Jacksonville

    RedRover Responders volunteers are back at it: helping to care for the nearly 700 cats rescued from a failed cat sanctuary in Florida. Eight volunteers travelled to Jacksonville to provide the daily care necessary to give these beleaguered cats a chance at better lives.

    RedRover Responders volunteers like Chris Smock (pictured) provide emotional enrichment to sheltered animals.
    This is the second time RedRover Responders volunteers stepped up for these cats. When they were initially rescued by the ASPCA at the request of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Madison County Animal Control in late February, RedRover Responders volunteers helped to set up the temporary shelter, assisted in the initial vetting efforts and cared for the cats during their first week at the shelter. In the meantime, the animals need daily care, both physical and emotional.

    Team Leader Andy Bass observed, “Since many of these criminal cases typically require sheltering for months, emotional enrichment becomes as important as daily care and medical treatment for the long-term care of our charges.” RedRover Responders volunteers help with this emotional enrichment simply by “being” with the cats in their kennels, making “kitty condos” out of carriers to give the cats somewhere to climb and perch upon, or delivering toys filled with catnip.

    RedRover Responders volunteer Becky helps put together "kitty condos" to give cats a place to climb and perch.
    The RedRover Responders program is committed to the success of large-scale cruelty cases. These cases cannot be brought unless there is a commitment care for the seized animals, often for weeks or months at a time. RedRover Responders volunteers will continue to be there for the animals, taking care of them physically and emotionally, to give them the chance they deserve.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    Madison County Cats: Till We Meet Again...

    Many thanks to Marcia Goodman, RedRover Responders volunteer and Communications Assistant, for writing this blog series on our deployment to Madison County, Florida. This is her final entry for this series.

    This final entry in this blog series focuses on the wonderful RedRover Responders volunteers who deployed to Jacksonville, Florida. I wasn't able to interview all of them, but the ones I did speak with represented a good sample of our volunteers.

    Rob and Julie preparing cages for the cats.

    As is typical for RedRover Responders, we were a varied group of volunteers. This was the first deployment for Rob Sullenberger, an ex-marine who shares his home in Georgia with 11 dogs and 7 cats, and for Andrea Weisberger, a Jacksonville area local who has 21 cat companions and also cares for a feral colony of about 25 cats. Diane Dupont and Julie Rathbun have deployed together in the past and were roommates at this deployment. I've also deployed with Julie in the past. Newly retired Karin Evans, my roommate at this deployment, has previously traveled to the Dominican Republic and Thailand to help animals and looks forward to more international travel. Two Jacksonville-area volunteers, Monica Ross and Amy Mcmahon were runners for the medical department at this deployment. Rebecca Cox, a vet tech student with an eye toward possibly going to veterinary school, did homework for school at night after an 11-hour workday at the emergency shelter.

    Diane carrying cats from the ASPCA rig into the temporary shelter.  

    Most rewarding

    To Andrea, most rewarding about this deployment was that she made a difference for the cats: being able to talk to them and provide positive human contact to make them feel more secure. Rob said that the large size of this deployment gave him insight into deployment operations through the interaction and dynamics of the different animal welfare groups working together. For Diane, who worked at a very similar deployment a few months earlier (the huge cat rescue in Gainesville, Florida), this Jacksonville deployment was an opportunity to apply the lessons she learned in Gainesville. Rebecca, who also volunteered at Gainesville, added that it's personally rewarding to make a difference for the cats she helped and also to be around "my kind of people" – that is, people who care about animals. Amy called this deployment an "amazing opportunity" as runner for the medical team, which "exceeded my every expectation." Karin appreciated how much was accomplished in such a short time and how great it was that everyone worked together effectively.

    Andrea, on her birthday, suiting up to treat cats for ringworm.

    Why deploy?

    Diane deploys to animal rescues so she can make a difference, which she feels is (sadly) easy to do because the animals come from such horrid conditions. In a similar vein, Rebecca deploys because, although many people are sympathetic about what happens to animals, not many do something about it – and the animals need people who will help. Karin is thrilled that she has the time to deploy now that she's retired. She tried to retire once before, but the small business she created at that time blossomed; now she has sold the business and can devote much more time to helping animals in distress.

    Karin providing daily care for the cats. 

    Challenges as a RedRover Responders volunteer

    The challenges faced by RedRover Responders volunteers differ from person to person. Karin says it's difficult to put a burden on the people she leaves at home to take care of her companion animals so that she can deploy. For Diane, it's not knowing what happens to the rescued animals after an emergency shelter closes. On this, her first deployment, Andrea was sorry that she wasn't able to work with the other RedRover Responders volunteers more; we were so dispersed throughout the shelter. Rebecca hopes that in future deployments, she'll be able to use the skills she's gaining as a vet tech student so she can help more and learn more.

    Amy checking on cats who are next to go to medical.

    How this deployment has been different

    This was Rebecca's second deployment; her first was the major cat rescue in Gainesville. She said the first one was a very emotional experience for her because she had a hard time seeing beyond all the individual cats who were suffering. At this deployment, she's a little less sensitive in a good way: she feels better able to help large numbers of cats because she can see beyond each individual cat. Amy helped at Hurricane Katrina and noted that this deployment to Jacksonville was "luxurious" in comparison thanks to the supplies provided by PetSmart Charities, the indoor shelter with electricity and real bathrooms, and the great meals provided by the ASPCA. (Note: Amy lives locally and didn't even get to lodge with other volunteers at this deployment.) For Karin, this deployment was the biggest she's been on; there was a lot to get done in a short period of time. Similarly, seeing multiple organizations work together on this deployment was the major difference for Diane; there's been more diversity this time around, meeting lots of different people from different organizations.

    Rebecca filling out a daily care sheet.
    There you have it – nine volunteers with nine different stories, and yet the most important piece of each story is the same: we all share a passion to help animals in need. We were all in Jacksonville to help nearly 700 cats by supporting each other, as well as the staff and volunteers of other organizations, and bonding with one another as we did so. As always, I look forward to the next deployment when I'll be able to walk in on Day 1 and say to some volunteers, "Great to meet you!" and to other volunteers with delight, "Wow, I haven't seen you since...!!!"

    Marcia donning Tyvek attire, a fashionable favorite among RedRover Responders volunteers.