367+ dogs were seized from throughout Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas after a three year investigation that resulted in the arrest of ten suspects (read more in the Humane Society of the United States’ press release). It was a huge score against animal cruelty.
This past weekend I deployed to the site where these dogs are being held, and I will be volunteering here for five days. The dogs have been at this temporary shelter since the raid – going on five months now – but of course continue to require daily care, which means volunteers are still needed. I jumped at the opportunity to meet and help them.
Because it is a federal investigation, most of the details about the case, including the dogs, are required to be kept under wraps. But what I can tell you is that working with these dogs is one of the most rewarding experiences of my short twenty four years. I have friends who’ve come here over the past few months and told me I’d feel this way, but I didn’t really believe them. I’ve seen a lot of pit bull rescue stuff, this can’t be *that* different, can it? It can.
It’s not a feeling you can grasp by hearing it from someone else. The only way for me to truly feel the effects of working with animals from a cruelty case is to see the dogs for myself: look them in the eye, get to know them as individuals, soak up their entire being. That is what you get to do when you are here volunteering. Sure, you are cleaning and feeding and exercising and working your butt off, but every little task you do is for those dogs. They are with you all day every day, and even the smallest interactions with them give insight into their resilience and strength.
I’m writing this post on night two and while I am completely and utterly exhausted, I’m so happy to know I still have three more days with these dogs, the other volunteers and the HSUS staff who make it all happen. It’s like a big happy family and a really well-oiled machine all in one – a very exciting operation to be a part of, even if only in a small way.
HSUS and the ASPCA are two national groups who are working with these dogs right now, but there are two additional rescue groups who are making a difference in a big way: Handsome Dan’s Rescue and a rescue many of you should be familiar with if you’ve read this blog for a while now, Jasmine’s House. These rescues are teaming up to take some dogs from this case as soon as the dogs are released (stay tuned for more info on the dogs!). The rescues are going to cover expenses for the transport, medical needs, foster care, etc. of these cruelty survivors. If you’re interested in directly helping these dogs, check out more information from Handsome Dan. If you enjoy really cute puppies, keep an eye on the Jasmine’s House Facebook page because they currently have a 367 puppy in their foster program!
I’ve got so much to say about what I’ve learned from this experience, but I can barely keep my eyes open and have another ten-hour day at the shelter tomorrow so that will have to wait for next week. I will leave you with a quote that has deeply resonated with me in regards to these dogs and what they have faced:
“The willow knows what the storm does not: that the power to endure harm outlives the power to inflict it.”