By Helia Zarkhosh, RedRover Communications Coordinator

What does a typical day look like for RedRover staff members? How do we answer the call for help when people have nowhere else to turn? In our new series, “Leading with Empathy: Behind the Scenes at RedRover,” we share staff stories about our efforts to bring animals from crisis to care. 

In this feature, Membership Assistant Nicolette Thayer describes a touching phone call she had with a Purple Leash Project donor.

Membership Assistant Nicolette Thayer with her rescue cat Kiki.

If you’ve left a comment with your RedRover online donation, chances are Nicolette is the person relaying your kind messages to our staff. In a given day, she touches dozens of donations and sees as many notes from our compassionate supporters. So when she received a voicemail from a supporter of the Purple Leash Project, she wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary. But the voice on the other end struck her: it was a survivor of domestic violence, and her voice was cracking at the memory of her past. She was calling to tell us how appreciative she was of RedRover and the work we’re doing through our domestic violence assistance program.

Touched by the woman’s message, Nicolette called back and learned the gut-wrenching details of this donor’s experience: When she fled her abuser, she was unable to take her two dogs with her and they ended up at an animal shelter. Although the dogs were eventually adopted, she was never able to see them again. It broke her heart. Having to make such a choice is unimaginable for most of us – and it’s why we are so passionate about removing barriers, so no one has to choose between their safety and their pets. 

Nicolette says, “I can’t imagine what that would be like, to lose your fur babies that way. It seemed like some time has passed since [the donor’s] experience and she has since relocated and has two new fur babies. The fact that it’s still so emotional for her just shows the value of pets in our lives.” And it’s why this donor expressed so much gratitude for the Purple Leash Project saying, “Just knowing that you’re out there helping others like me and their pets find safety makes all the difference.”

Receiving this kind of feedback from our supporters – especially someone who has firsthand experience with the devastating reality of domestic violence and lack of pet-friendly resources -– fills Nicolette with pride: “I’m proud to work for an organization that does such meaningful work… proud of my coworkers who help run these programs and created all this from the ground up… and proud that we have such generous donors and a partner like Purina to help make it possible. It’s all a team effort.”

We couldn’t provide our lifesaving care and assistance without you, and we love hearing why you’ve chosen to support RedRover. If you’d like to share your own story, email

Learn more about the Purple Leash Project and how you can get involved. >>