Paws-itively the purr-fect partners

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Teamwork After the Hurricane: All for the Animals

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.

 

37753Derek 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.