This is a guest blog post written by Beth Gammie, RedRover Emergency Services Manager. You can learn more about Beth by following her on Twitter @RedRoverBeth.
Leslie Zureick had made a big promise. One that she was committed to keeping. Leslie told Ruth Wilder that she would save her dogs.
The challenge: Ruth had 66 dogs on her rural property in Ripley, Ohio, and could no longer afford food or veterinary care. And Leslie, the president of the Brown County Humane Society (BCHS) in Ohio, had little resources or expertise in field seizures and emergency animal sheltering.
Leslie was committed to rescuing the dogs from these difficult hoarding conditions and keeping her promise to Ruth that the animals would not be euthanized if she surrendered ownership.
So, BCHS asked for our help.
Send the responders right over
Leslie called on the RedRover Responders program, which I’ve been a part of for three years—first as a volunteer, and now as RedRover’s Emergency Services Manager.
RedRover is a nonprofit animal welfare organization headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., with a network of volunteers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Its trained volunteers set up and operate temporary emergency shelters for animals displaced by natural disasters or rescued from abuse or neglect.
Twelve RedRover Responders volunteers traveled to Ohio to set up a temporary shelter for the beleaguered dogs, including yours truly.
A steady rain fell as I hiked down a steep hill to Ruth’s property, accompanied by Brown County animal control officials and BCHS volunteers. Dogs roamed the property, and had little refuge from the weather.
My heart went out to them. I felt for Ruth too, who clearly living in poverty, without many basics such as indoor plumbing. She was forced to choose between buying her own medicine and food for the dogs—and she was choosing to feed the dogs.
Ruth made do with what she had, but I think she knew that surrendering the dogs would be best for them and her.
The Waggin’ rolls in
As we learned more details about the conditions, and begin to formulate our plan, we knew we needed more help. So, we turned to PetSmart Charities.
As a volunteer with RedRover, I saw PetSmart Charities step up time and time again for animals in crisis, supplying literally every emergency response I’ve worked on. And as Emergency Services Manager, I’ve had the pleasure of working with PetSmart Charities directly in obtaining needed supplies. Without PetSmart Charities’ assistance, RedRover simply couldn’t help as many animals as we do.
Shortly after we arrived at Ruth’s property, PetSmart Charities delivered an Emergency Relief Waggin’ vehicle full of vital supplies, such as cages, food, bowls and leashes. It also provided a lifesaving grant for the animals’ veterinary care. The dogs suffered from conditions typically associated with hoarding: skin disease, eye infections and parasites.
In addition, Rumpke, an Ohio waste management company, provided the shelter site in two barns on their property.
Finding forever homes
After the dogs were seized from the property, they settled in. Pregnant females nested, puppies mewled and the adults got down to checking out their new digs. Many were timid at first, but volunteers coaxed the dogs back to life. We were all amazed at how sweet and loving the dogs were. They responded well to simple daily care, including good nutrition, clean cages and baths.
RedRover Responders volunteers Nova Keaton and Diane Reppy-Buhl reached out to placement partners and established rescue groups. Marcia Goodman, another Responders volunteer, took adoption photos of each dog. She posted each and every one on the BCHS’s special Facebook page to showcase the dogs’ gentle spirits.
Even Dr. Cowdrey, the local veterinarian treating the animals, got into the act. Dr. Cowdrey decided to foster “Mayhem,” a lovable terrier mix she fell in love with during the intake process. Her vet tech Jennifer Crooker took two of the dogs into Crooker’s Critters, a rescue program she founded.
The work of the RedRover Responders program and the generosity of PetSmart Charities made a huge impact on these animals. Together we gave them a chance at loving forever homes. It also provided a much-needed boost to a small humane society striving to do the right thing by the animals in their county.
A promise kept
As of this writing, each dog and pup has either found its forever home, or has been placed in foster homes with rescue groups committed to connecting them with loving families.
Leslie was able to keep her promise. And 66 families, 20+ volunteers and the staff at one scrappy rural humane society have a little more love and hope in their lives.
Thank you to the Brown County Humane Society for the opportunity to make a difference for these 66 dogs, and to PetSmart Charities for your support. It feels good knowing that we can all work together to make this world a better place for the animals.
This is a guest blog post written by Beth Gammie, RedRover Emergency Services Manager. You can learn more about Beth and follow her on Twitter @RedRoverBeth.