Furry Friends + Red Cross raise the ruff!
By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer
When disaster strikes, a furry friend can afford tremendous comfort to a family, and most pet owners do consider their pets to be part of their family. Keeping them together, therefore, necessitates being able to keep owners and pets as close as possible.
For Camp Fire survivors, there was room to shelter their pets immediately across from the men’s and women’s dorms in the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds. While known for sheltering people, the American Red Cross turns to partner agencies to assist with pets.
Operating the temporary shelter and keeping the pets healthy is the responsibility of Furry Friends Pet Relief from Antioch. Founded by Erin Piña of Oakley, California, Furry Friends began helping in mid-December and took over operation of the shelter on Christmas Eve.
A visiting veterinarian, Dr. Lauren Knobel, has been stopping in and helping set protocols to assure each animal is healthy and up to date on their shots.
Presently, the shelter is still housing over 30 pets, including dogs, cats, and birds. Assisting is shelter manager, Morgan Macy, of Yuba City, who has been here since the shelter first opened. “Thankfully, I can now say that all our dogs are happy and healthy again, and back in general population,” explains Macy.
The shelter is set up in a large A-frame building with dozens of cages of varying sizes. Birds and cats to the left and most dogs to the right. The exceptions are three pups and their mom, just to the left of the reception table.
Stealing the show are the three, fluffy, Alaskan Malamute pups, born on Halloween, shown here with (L-R) Morgan Macy, Grady Grammar and Demetra Poulos.
If you are a cat person, then you are going to love Dinky, held here by Piña. She’s super friendly, and a crowd favorite.
The shelter’s hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day and owners are encouraged to spend time with their pets whenever feasible. “If it were me,” says Macy, “I’d be spending as much time as possible with mine. They are suffering just like their owners, and they need to work together as the family members they are.”
If owners can’t walk their dogs daily, one of up to 20 volunteers takes care of walking each animal, three times each day. Large fenced enclosures enable the dogs to play catch or run freely for exercise.
One owner, Dustin Lee, (R) enjoys playing around with his Pitbull, Hitch. “I got him about a month ago from the local humane society, and we love to horse around together,” says Lee. They enjoy having space outside where Hitch can run free in the enclosure.
Presently seven AmeriCorps volunteers from San Jose are also assisting Piña and Macy with feeding, watering, walking and cleaning cages. Here every day, the volunteers work from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Shelter residents, as well as Red Cross workers, have been extremely complimentary about the pet shelter, and Furry Friends hopes to work with Red Cross again on future disaster responses that include pet-sheltering operations.