14 Apr Day 2 – Part 1!
Written By: Kelli Leahy, Home Visit Coordinator
“Rescue: It’s not just a verb, it’s a promise.”
An amazing day one was in the books!! As I opened my eyes on Friday morning, I had no idea what was in store…what dogs would we meet? Which of our Southern partners would we get to spend the say with? What would we be doing? As my three van-mates and I pulled into the parking lot at the first shelter, I had no idea how life changing the day would be for me, as a dog lover, a dog mom, a rescuer…and a human being.
Stuttgart Animal Shelter: Our time spent at Stuttgart was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Situated in rural Stuttgart, AR, the shelter was set back from the road nearby to other public works buildings. The shelter itself had drawings of dogs and welcome messages painted on the outside of the building; as we entered the shelter to the laughter of the shelter workers and volunteers, the love, commitment and dedication this group shows to the precious souls in their care, day in day out, on weekends, holidays and everyday in between is nothing short of extraordinary. Being in the shelter I felt a warmth and an instant camaraderie…I felt home.
Our agenda for the day included cleaning kennels, working with contractors to build shelving and a ramp in the dog’s washroom, cleaning and reorganizing portions of the shelter itself, remodeling/renovating the laundry room and (perhaps my most favorite item on the list) loving on and working with the dogs.
As the resident crazy Lab lady, I think these photos speak for themselves!
Another very special dog that captured my heart was Sheeley, a very sweet but very timid and very emaciated Great Dane. This gorgeous girl is a testament to the resilience of the canine spirit; despite the hardship she has endured, Sheeley still had love and warmth in those beautiful eyes of hers.
Hazen Animal Shelter: One of the toughest shelters to visit in person was Hazen Animal Shelter. Located in a small, rural town, the shelter itself is a series of outdoor kennels in a large field with little to no protection from sun, rain, wind or the elements. One of the key initiatives of the fundraiser for this trip was to purchase supplies so that a contractor could build a wall to provide the dogs some protection.
There is no shelter office and while someone does come by twice per day to feed the dogs and exercise them, they spend the vast majority of their time alone…away from each other and largely away from human contact. Dozens of thoughts flooded my mind. What happens if the dogs get sick? Don’t they get lonely?
Three dogs called the Hazen Shelter their home—a black Lab mix puppy, a 4-year-old Curr mix boy and an adult Chihuahua who was very pregnant. The expectant momma was brought to the vet and we spent time playing with and loving on the two other babies, giving them as much opportunity to run and stretch their legs as we could. We put them back in their kennels before we left; as a Team there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, all of us making promises to do anything and everything we could to help get these babies on the road to their happily FURever afters. Little did we know, less than 24 hours later, we would be able to make good on those promises.
To Be Continued…