In mid-July, during the hot, humid season in White County, Arkansas, 14 RedRover Responders volunteers assisted the Humane Society of the United States in the rescue and emergency sheltering of 96 dogs, puppies, cats and kittens. Many dogs on-site were found chained to trees and decrepit vehicles, while inside the home, cats and dogs lived in heartbreakingly miserable conditions.
On site, RedRover Responders volunteers assisted the Animal Rescue Team of the HSUS by carrying rescued animals from the field to the mobile vet station, and then onto the transport vehicle. Other volunteers worked to prepare the temporary shelter for the animals' arrival.
Once the rescued animals arrived at the sheltering site, volunteers put into action RedRover Responders volunteers are known for: providing top-notch sheltering care and comfort to neglected animals. Throughout the next week, volunteers provided daily care, socialization and enrichment. Within days, the frightened animals seemed to sense they were in good hands, and became more animated – meowing, wiggling and barking.
One volunteer, Ruth Scroggin from Arkansas, spent much of her time socializing the cats and kittens in “The Cat Room.” As a seasoned caretaker and handler of feral cats, Ruth was a perfect match for the injured, ill and frightened cats rescued from the property.
While caring for kitties in The Cat Room, Ruth met a young cat named Cricket, who was suffering from ringworm and other ailments. Though ringworm is typically considered easy to treat with little to no lasting affects, it does take a longer period of time to treat the infection and therefore makes it difficult for the animal to find a home quickly. Ruth quickly bonded with little Cricket: Ruth decided to adopt Cricket herself and care for her as Cricket healed from the physical and mental afflictions characteristic of animals in a hoarding situation.
Ruth told us the story of how she met Cricket and how the heartbreaking encounter while on deployment led to her providing a forever home for the neglected cat:
I first remember seeing Cricket as we began caring for the cats on Day 1 of the deployment. Her appearance wasn't striking in any particular way: a short-haired, very dirty, dilute calico with pretty blue eyes. She was calm and seemed unperturbed by all the commotion and noise as we scurried to properly care for over 25 cats.
Cricket was diagnosed with ringworm, which required special handling procedures. It was also discovered that she had several infected abscesses on her paws and an ingrown nail. When she returned from being spayed and receiving treatment for her other medical problems, I gently lifted her out of her carrier and back into her cage.
The fur around her neck had been shaved, which exposed multiple deep red lacerations, probably caused by scratching from intense itching due to the ringworm and fleas. She looked so awful, covered with open wounds and scratches, so thin, so ragged and so broken. She was still groggy from surgery but as I lifted her tiny body, she looked up at me and meowed plaintively. It was then that my heart broke for her, and I felt as though her meow was her way of trying to say, "Help me." Her suffering was unimaginable.
I knew that finding a placement partner or a foster home would be exceedingly difficult, and a permanent adoption even less likely. She was an adult, had multiple medical problems, and a disease contagious not only to other animals but also to people. It was then that I felt compelled to make a difference in her life by offering her a forever home. Her sweet spirit shines brightly despite the horrific conditions she was living in and I am thrilled to be a part of her journey to recovery.
Ruth met with the veterinarians on-site for information about how to care for Cricket, and the sick kitty received a full exam before going to her new home. When Ruth and Cricket finally arrived home, Ruth gave Cricket her own isolation setup so she could get well in a stress-free environment. “As I tell my pets (all adopted or direct rescues) when they first come home,” Ruth said to Cricket, "Nothing bad will ever happen to you again!”