By Patty Sprong, RedRover Responders volunteer

I have been volunteering in animal rescue in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area for over 25 years. I moved to Carrollton, TX in December 1991 and helped form the Carrollton Humane Society in February 1992. We started that group with four goals: to improve conditions at the animal shelter, to promote spay & neuter, to promote adoption, and to establish a reduced registration fee for altered pets. We accomplished all of these goals. The Carrollton Humane Society was active for many years until it merged with another group. I volunteered actively until 1997, participating in weekly adoption events, and other events, even back before Petfinder and internet adoption listings came into play.

I adopted my first dog in 1998 from HART – Humane Animal Rescue Team, out of Irving, TX. I started volunteering with HART in 2000, and stayed active until 2010, hosting weekly adoption events and putting on special events like the HART & SOUL dog run. I fostered both cats and dogs over that period, and stopped counting after about 80 dogs!

After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2006, I knew that I wanted to do more than local adoptions. I trained as a volunteer for RedRover (EARS at that time), and I was hooked. I had my first deployment to Pratt, KS in 2007. Being a “red-shirt” has been one of the most challenging, satisfying, and rewarding things in my life. I have made friends nationwide, within the group and within other partner organizations. The relationships that are formed through volunteering are the most meaningful and long lasting relationships one can make. We may not see each other often, but when we do, it’s like we were never apart. Animal people are the best people in the world!

I thought I had about had my fill with volunteering at weekly adoptions, and I threw in the towel at the end of 2010. Then, three months later, I read a story about a local veterinarian who was helping rescue dogs. Her name was Erin Shults, and she had formed her group, Mazie’s Mission. specifically to help special needs dogs that other groups didn’t have the resources to help. This was a new twist, and I had to learn more. Dr. Shults welcomed me into the group and I helped her with her adoption program, and special events, until she finally realized her dream of opening a RESCUE ONLY veterinary hospital which has been open for several years now.

To this day, I continue to foster dogs for various local rescue groups, and I go on deployments as a RedRover Responders volunteer whenever possible. Us red-shirts hate to say that we are “looking forward” to the next disaster or seizure, but the truth is, we are. Until then…

Learn more about becoming a RedRover Responders volunteer