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.

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