By Devon Krusko, RedRover Field Services and Outreach Coordinator

Rochelle arrived in the middle of the night, eager to receive veterinary service for her three cats. It was surprisingly chilly in Tennessee the spring weekend when our RedRover Responders assisted at the Remote Area Medical Clinic, caring for the animals who came to receive free vet treatment. But folks lined up as early as midnight in order to receive free medical care for themselves and their pets.

Rochelle waited patiently for her turn at the check-in table and then began going over each cat’s name, their personality, and the story of how she came to care for them. Check-in was almost complete when she asked, almost shyly, “Is there a limit to how many animals I can bring?”

“No,” we told her with a smile. “Bring as many as you can, we’re here to help.” We loaded up her car with carriers and crates and hoped to see her soon.

And we did. Rochelle lives almost an hour from the clinic, and she drove back and forth repeatedly to transport animals in her care. Living at the end of a dirt road has made her neighborhood, and her home, a common place for folks to drop off animals or for strays to find their way to her. One dog she had only been feeding for two days. Many of the animals in her care had arrived pregnant, and Rochelle does not have the resources to care for the number of stray animals who need help.

In between trips, she was able to have her eyes examined and was looking forward to receiving her new glasses. A small moment for herself.

I was humbled to spend the day working with Rochelle. Over her multiple trips to the clinic transporting the animals, she arrived with a car – and a heart – full of love. She’d arrive with a smile. She’d arrive with a sigh of relief and a “Thank you” constantly between her lips. She was simply the embodiment of gratitude, as the animals in her care were gradually prepped to be altered and vaccinated.

At the end of the day, Rochelle told us, “It meant everything to me to be here today. These are just babies. Now they’ll be healthy and they can enjoy life.”

So, is there a limit? A limit of love? Of compassion? A limit to how much one person cares and how much of themselves they put into something? I think it’s limitless. Rochelle showed me this front and center. I was reminded over and over again that weekend that compassion is kindness. That people are good. That people and pets belong together.

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