June 20th, 2008
It’s Thursday, June 19, and today was my final day of deployment with UAN’s Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS). It began like any other day this week with dog walking and cage cleaning, and the weather was beautiful. I walked several dogs this morning, many of whom I hadn’t had the opportunity to work with before. I enjoyed interacting with as many dogs as I could — I have three cats of my own at home so it was fun to play with dogs. So many of them are loving, gentle animals, and it broke my heart to tell them goodbye today. However, I plan on returning to Cedar Rapids next week since I live in a town only about 30 miles away in Iowa City — I can’t stay away knowing how much work still needs to be done at the shelter, even if my “official” deployment has ended.
Even though it was physically and emotionally difficult to be at the shelter, I think it was even more difficult to leave. As I said, there is still so much work that needs to be done and so many animals still there that need to be cared for. When I arrived at my front door today I burst into tears at the sight of my own cats, who I hadn’t seen for four days. As I petted them, I couldn’t help but feel the impact of all that I’d been through in the past several days and realize how unfair it was that so many people and animals are still displaced from their homes — and that a lot of them don’t even have homes to go to anymore.
While you are there in the thick of it, working 12-hour days and running in two directions at once, you don’t have time to actually process what you are seeing and doing. Being removed from the situation in Cedar Rapids really made me take everything into perspective and I was able to realize what a wonderful and heroic operation I had been a part of.
I am proud of my involvement with EARS and will cherish the memory of this experience. I will take pride in knowing that I made a difference in the lives of hundreds of animals who were saved because of the dedicated volunteers and rescue crews I was fortunate enough to work with. Deploying with EARS was certainly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also the most rewarding expereince of my life.
Photos courtesy Dawn Frary and Shari Neal.