By: Meredith Raimondi (Volunteer Roane Shelter to Rescue Coordinator and Member of CDR Board of Directors)
There is a widespread misconception that animal shelter staff do not care about the animals. In Roane County, West Virginia, this couldn't be further from the truth. The staff go above and beyond every day in a rural area with limited resources and overcrowded kennels. Oftentimes they find they have twice as many animals as kennels, which can leave for difficult decisions. The work of three extraordinary women, Stephanie Justice, Susan Lyons and Tanya Hicks, who are both staff members and dog fosters, has made a remarkable positive difference in lives of hundreds of animals and helped limit the number of animals put down due to overcrowding. As fosters, they volunteer their time and homes for dogs rescued by City Dogs Rescue. For a month or more, they feed, nurture, and care for these dogs. They travel far distances to go to the vet to ensure the dogs have all vaccinations and vetting prior to arrival in Washington, DC. Their charitable actions have inspired the local community to step up and join the Shelter Staff Fosters in finding ways to help animals leave the shelter alive through rescue or adoption. Whether it's through community fundraisers, adoption events, or fostering, everyone is pitching in to help the Roane County animals.
These women have personally been an inspiration to me as the Roane Shelter Coordinator for CDR. We have hard weeks in rescue and often it's easy to get defeated. What I do doesn't even come close to the one-tenth of what the Shelter Staff Fosters do each week to make a difference. Humane Officer Tanya spends most of her work days travelling far distances to retrieve animals from situations of abuse and neglect. They foster dogs back to back, month after month. Tanya and Susan said they continue to help because "knowing that we have helped a dog, that if not for [our] family, would not otherwise have known what it is to be loved and a part of a family. The reward is in "seeing the transformation from scared animals to loving trusting ones."
They don't complain when a dog gets sick, marks in their house (common in unneutered male dogs), or drags a roll of tissue paper through the house. They handle transport delays due to weather or a lack of fosters in DC in stride. They do not pressure us and they show thanks for CDR each day. It takes a patient personality to deal with me because my mind moves a million miles a minute but everyone is always understanding. When I think about their lives, I feel a deep appreciation and gratitude on all they do and I am so lucky to be a part of it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you ladies!