Donna is a retired teacher, but if you saw her on the ground with the RedRover Responders team, you’d believe she’s been doing this work her entire life. In fact, Donna has been involved with disaster response for the last 11 years, volunteering first with her local county animal response team. She knew right away that it was something she was passionate about, and so took every training opportunity that came her way, including becoming both a RedRover Responders volunteer and an American Humane volunteer.

When she arrived in Stevens County, Washington, as an American Humane volunteer, she was quickly asked to lead a team of RedRover Responders volunteers. As volunteers and organizations came and went, each giving their time and love to the more than 250 small dogs seized from a puppy mill, her valuable organization and direction skills made her a great fit for shelter co-manager.

As shelter co-manager, she helped volunteers cope with the range of emotions that can surface when responding to a puppy mill seizure. She described their sadness and concern, but also their happiness, tears of joy, and even tears of sadness upon leaving the dogs to whom they had already formed a deep bond. For her personally, that passion for helping animals – in any way she can –  lends her a sense of hopefulness.

In reflecting on caring for dogs seized from a puppy mill, Donna says she doesn’t use that energy to dislike or hate the people responsible, but prefers to use it to care for the dogs. After all, this is “day one of their future.” Donna was particularly drawn to two dogs on this deployment: one was a sweet little girl who thrived on attention despite her hesitation, and the other was a mama who loved attention just as much as she loved her newborn pups. Donna hopes that the dogs will continue to get healthy, become more trusting, and realize that every person in their life from this point forward is going to love them. It is her wish that all animals find a happy, loving home.

Never far from her teaching roots, Donna imparts all of her volunteers with a message on their last day of deployment: You are part of their story, and they are part of your heart.

To learn more about supporting RedRover Responders, donate to our Emergency Response Fund or learn how you can volunteer.