July 12th, 2016
By Donna L. Lagomarsino, RedRover Responders volunteer team leader
On a hot July morning, RedRover Responders volunteers once again descended upon the location of a temporary emergency shelter in Jefferson County, Arkansas. I say “again” because this is a location we have visited before. It is a location that breathes medical attention, improved health, quality care and a loving future for animals in crisis.
The mission of RedRover Responders volunteers is to care for and bring comfort to animals in need. Each volunteer is trained to deliver excellence in emergency animal sheltering.
As each volunteer settled into their first day of work, the temporary shelter was transformed into a safe haven. It became a peaceful place where dogs would be vetted, medical needs would be addressed, nutritional and behavioral needs would be evaluated, and volunteers would provide a consistent routine of daily care.
The dogs came, one by one. Each dog was unloaded off the transport and escorted to their special location. There were lots of different personalities, but one thing seemed certain: life for this group of dogs was about to change in a monumental way. A small feeding and a drink of water was enough to send them off to sleep for the night.
In the following days, the volunteers took baby steps in order to create a new normal for our furry guests. Establishing a routine was the first order of business. Feeding, cleaning the kennels, rest time, enrichment and puppy socialization became very structured elements of each dog’s day. It was upon these basic essentials that the safe haven was built.
What we hope for is change. Not big change, but gradual change. We look for the dog that feels secure enough to finally leave his safe house. We look for the dog who begins to wag her tail. We look for the dog who will approach the front of the kennel. These little behaviors are huge indicators that the dogs are beginning to become comfortable with their new space. And for the volunteers, it is a happy tale.
As we said goodbye to these amazing dogs at the end of our first week, the volunteers left knowing that they had a place in each dog’s story. The acts were small, but the rewards are great.