July 27th, 2015
Written by RedRover Responders volunteer Donna Lagomarsino
When RedRover takes action to bring animals from crisis to care, there is an assortment of pieces that must then fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Within those pieces, the biggest are our RedRover Responders volunteers. This army of shelter soldiers deploy at a moment’s notice to shelter and care for animals displaced by natural disasters and other crises, such as criminal seizures and hoarding cases.
On a recent deployment to Chatham County, North Carolina, RedRover Responders volunteers were assisting with the sheltering of approximately 150 cats and dogs removed from a hoarding and cruelty situation. Upon arriving at the temporary emergency shelter location, our volunteers were introduced to a blank canvas; an empty warehouse space from which to start building a shelter. The beautiful thing about a blank canvas is that when finished, it breathes life for all that can appreciate its beauty.
So for two days, RedRover Responders volunteers labored to build a small city for cats and dogs. The blank canvas was beginning to show signs of transformation. But even artists have brain clouds in the middle of creativity. Ours came in the form of climate control, or lack thereof.
With temperatures outside reaching into the high 90’s, the temperature inside the shelter was maxing out at 90 degrees. With swamp coolers and fans providing some sense of relief, the volunteers turned a vision into a reality, complete with a dog wing, two cat wings, a maternity wing and a medical wing. And of course, all of the other working components needed to support and maintain what was about to happen next.
Late afternoon on the second day, our furry felines and lovable canines began arriving to the emergency shelter. By late evening, everyone was settled in and resting comfortably. Our blank canvas had come full circle and was now a fully operating temporary emergency shelter breathing life.
Days three and four were very busy days in the shelter. With lots of movement, each animal was seen by the veterinarian to ensure that all of their needs were being addressed. While the veterinarians worked non-stop, so did the RedRover Responders volunteers. Establishing a routine for daily care was a priority. And in between the daily care schedule, volunteers continued to make improvements to their little city until everything was almost perfect.
Of course, there is never a shortage of surprises. And on this particular morning, the surprise came in the form of two newborn kittens. As volunteers were performing their morning tasks, they were thrilled to discover that one of the feline family members had given birth overnight. The word spread like wildfire throughout the shelter and there was this joy and celebration amongst everyone.
A walk up and down each aisle produced a rainbow of little paws reaching out for attention and affection. A tail wag was our invitation to stop and say hello and maybe even seek out a nose nudge. “Stop and play with me!” was the song everywhere.
And finally, the one ingredient needed for perfection arrived…AIR-CONDITIONING! All was right with the world!
As the RedRover Responders team wrapped up the first week of deployment, there was much to reflect on. This small army had created a masterpiece; a place where animals would be cared for, loved and provided with a future that each was so deserving of. A place where volunteers, some who had never met before, became what would hopefully be life-long colleagues and friends. A place where the human-animal bond is at its peak of purrfection…