On Friday, Devon set off on a trip
to rehab West Virginia shelters alongside 27 college-student
volunteers. The trip was organized by Animal Lifeline
and funded by the Petfinder.com Foundation and Animal Planet’s R.O.A.R.
Here’s Devon’s latest update from the field. Plus — Denise Bash
and Jen Daley of Animal Lifeline are writing in to answer your
questions about pet rescue and transport all week! Write your questions
in the comments
It’s hard to believe I have only been in West Virginia for four days. Every day we have worked at least a full 12 hours. If the sun didn’t go down every night I have a feeling we would be able to work a few more, but with such a large task at hand, the long days are well worth the sacrifice. Within the last few days we have gotten an incredible amount of work accomplished.
Sunday we all split into teams and I was able to be part of the shelter educational outreach program. Not only did I help prepare and run the program, I was also able to listen to the presenters and learn about the realities of animal sheltering. Among the presenters there were a behaviorist, a veterinarian, a vet tech, and an adoption and transportation specialist.
Ritchie County Humane Society
The animal behaviorist taught us how to temperament screen dogs. The
veterinarian taught us how important it is to make protocols regarding
vaccinations and sterilization, and she also covered the importance of
spay-and-neuter programming. The vet tech taught us how to understand
the basic nutritional needs of puppies and adult dogs and how to read
and understand the labels on food bags. The adoption and transportation
specialist taught the shelters how to use Petfinder to market their
animals. Attendees were given a lot of information about grass-roots
fundraising and everyone who attended left with crates, kennels, food,
leashes and collars. All in all, it was a very educational day for not
only the shelter staff but also for me and the student volunteers who
helped run the program.
Monday was a day packed full of physical labor. I was finally able to
make it to the Ritchie
County Humane Society to help with the reconstruction of their
shelter. We poured concrete for four new kennels and constructed a roof
on each kennel for shade and weather protection for the dogs. While some
of the group started making chain link fencing for the kennels, the
rest of us took to the task of planting trees and flowers for the
memorial garden. This was one of the hardest things I had to do on this
trip, because we planted the garden around the graves of the animals who
were lost in January’s fire. We picked out a special tree and a
memorial rock is being shipped to West Virginia which will honor the
pets who were lost. We hope that this memorial garden will help aid in
the healing of the staff and volunteers who are obviously still
Tuesday we split into teams again and the majority of the group went
back to Ritchie County to finish the work on the kennels while a few of
us went back to the Braxton County
Humane Society to pour concrete for two new exercise runs for the
dogs. The new runs will not only give the dogs an area to run and play
but will also be used for extra kennel space in case of an emergency.
While at Braxton we also planted five evergreens to help block the new
kennels from rain and snow.
While the student volunteers and I were busy building and
reconstructing, our professional staff was busy temperament testing and
choosing dogs for transport back to the Northeast. They ended up working
with St. Hubert’s
Animal Welfare Center in northern New Jersey, who came down to
train staff at the Humane
Society of Parkersburg and pull dogs for adoption from Ritchie
County and Parkersburg. The combined effort will mean at least 25
animals are going to rescues and into homes. It’s nice to know that we
had a direct effect on the lives of all these people and pets.
With all the work that has been accomplished within the last few days,
it’s hard to imagine that there is still some that needs to be done –
and only one more day left for the Animal Lifeline line team to do it.
To find out how you can help fund more projects like this, please visit
Foundation’s donate page.
Have questions about pet rescue and transport, what it is, why it’s
needed and how you can get involved? Ask us your questions in the comments
below and Denise Bash and Jen Daley of Animal Lifeline will write back
by May 31.
Learn more about the West Virginia
trip and all the participating shelters here.
For more real-life examples of rescues in action, check out
Planet’s new show about pet-rescue transport, Last Chance Highway, which premieres June 19 at 8