Compassion In Action

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Scotlund's Blog

Operation Mending Hearts

Just before 6 p.m. on Friday, February 14, Animal Rescue Corps received a call from officials in Morristown in Hamblen County, Tennessee, asking for help with an urgent situation. The Morristown Hamblen Humane Society had discovered more than 70 animals living in deplorable conditions, and they needed assistance immediately.

I knew it was late on Valentine’s Day and that people might be on an evening out with their loved one. But I also knew that I could call any hour of any day when the need is desperate and the ARC team would answer. Within minutes the ARC Tennessee volunteer response team and other members of ARC’s leadership and field team were on a conference call. We discussed the situation and devised a plan, with each person taking responsibility for action items in their respective areas. There was no hesitancy; there were no complaints. Each volunteer discreetly canceled their plans for the weekend and spent the rest of their evening undertaking essential assignments such as deploying other team members, securing transport vehicles, preparing an emergency shelter, and getting equipment and supplies ready. Because of their selfless dedication, the ARC field team was able to assemble in Morristown just 23 hours after receiving the initial phone call, prepared to face the challenge ahead of us.

As we arrived at the property, escorted by officials from the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department and animal control, we could smell the stench from the street. Upon entering the house, we were hit with a wall of ammonia that burned our eyes and made it difficult to breathe. We found dozens of animals without access to food and water, surrounded by piles of garbage, feces, and filth. Dogs, including nursing mothers, were trapped in small, soiled crates stacked high on top of each other. Moving within the cramped space, we discovered dogs with severe dehydration and signs of illnesses. Yet, the volunteers at my side did not flinch; they did not pause to catch their breath. Faced with this heartbreaking and horrific scene, the team focused solely on bringing this suffering to an end and delivering the animals to safety.

As the sun went down, volunteers readied the transport vehicles, assembled crates, and prepared for the intake and documentation process. Once the property was thoroughly assessed and everyone was prepared, team members started to carry out animals one by one, relieved to get each one out of the house and into the fresh air. Hours passed, temperatures dropped, but volunteers worked tirelessly. Just after midnight, I removed the final dog—a beautiful black lab mix—from a dark, damp, dirt-floored cellar. Snow started gently falling and we paused for a moment to celebrate the rescue of a total of 73 dogs and 2 cats … but we knew our work for the night was far from over. The team proceeded to drive three and a half hours to Lebanon, Tennessee, to the ARC emergency shelter that the shelter team had spent the evening setting up. Though exhausted, the volunteers worked into the early hours of the morning, fueled by the relief of knowing that these frightened, tired animals would finally be able to rest and breathe easy.

Many of the volunteers that early morning went home to sleep for only a few hours before returning to care for the animals and assist the veterinary teams in examining and providing medical care for each animal. None of these volunteers were working for payment or for special recognition. Many of them have families and full-time jobs. They all have additional responsibilities and a number of other ways they could have spent their weekend—but their compassion for animals drives them to serve. They believe so strongly in ending suffering that their own fatigue fades when they see an animal finally close her eyes to rest. Their own discomfort diminishes when they see an animal whose emotional and physical health are improving. Their personal interests are set aside when they witness the heartache of animals begin to fade as they are given the chance at the life they were meant to live. While my words could never be enough to thank each one, a volunteer’s selfless compassion is richly rewarded as they heal their precious charges and watch them begin to live and love again.

Animal Rescue Corps volunteers are the most selfless and compassionate group of individuals I have ever had the great honor to work alongside. They are a constant reminder that while I see the worst humanity has to offer, I also see the very best. ARC’s work would not be possible without the incredible dedication of these amazing volunteers, the commitment of our placement partners, and the generosity of our donors. It is this collective investment in compassion that is making an unprecedented difference for thousands of animals each year. Saving these lives takes an entire army and I am continually encouraged and inspired by the caliber of the compassion soldiers who make our work possible. They go above and beyond and I am grateful for their service. To all volunteers, partners, and supporters of Animal Rescue Corpsthank you. Together, we are saving lives; together, we are ending suffering; together, we are mending hearts.


To see the ARC video from Operation Mending Hearts please click here.

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2 responses to “Operation Mending Hearts”

  1. Deborah Maffettone says:

    How do we help on Long Island and in New York??

  2. […] I blogged about how grateful I am for Animal Rescue Corps’ outstanding group of dedicated and selfless volunteers. But as National […]

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