By Stacey Shell
Derek was sitting on the back of his truck on the main street in Marianna, Florida earlier this week. He and his mother, Charlotte, are from Pensacola and were affected by Hurricane Ivan several years ago. They were caught unprepared.
Derek vowed then that he would never again be caught unprepared and would be ready to help if a hurricane ever came to Florida again. He has a soft spot in his heart for animals and knew that was an area of need that he could help with.
Derek and Charlotte collected more than 250 pounds of fruit and pet food from his car club, church and community members. For the past two weeks they have driven down to Tallahassee to give it away to anyone in need.
The mother and son have been driving around the back roads of affected areas where there is still no water, no power and, in some cases, clearing of the roads has not begun.
They came upon one house that had been evacuated but still on the property were foru dogs and five puppies that were left behind. Derek dropped three bags of dog food to which all of the dogs came running because they were starving.
Once I heard this story I could not leave without making sure the dogs were rescued. We drove to the local animal control office where I met a gentleman named Ken. He was not an animal control worker, but happened to work next door.
None of the animal control people were there. I told him the story and asked him if he had any suggestions on how I can get someone out to the house to save the dogs. He got on the phone and called Karen who was a friend of his. I gave her the information and she promised that she would get someone out there.
As we were driving away, Ken drove up in his car getting our attention to let us know that the house was in a different county. I asked him if he had any contacts in that county so I could get help. He and Karen told me they would coordinate with the other county’s animal control department and they promised that the dogs would be taken care of.
Because of this mother and son team from Pensacola who were down here just to help, this Red Cross volunteer who believes no animal should be left behind, two local individuals willing to help, and the coordination of two county animal control groups, these dogs will not be forgotten and the puppies will have a chance to live a full life.
If you would like to contribute to the American Red Cross Hurricane Michael disaster response, visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
Stacey Shell is a Gold Country Region volunteer. She is on her first-ever deployment to to assist those affected by Hurricane Michael.