When the going gets tough….
It’s been said many times: People pull together for a common cause in the darkest of hours. The week of July 4th was no exception here at the League.
From Friday evening, July 29th until Tuesday evening, July 3, our facility was without power. Like much of the Washington, D.C. area, we were victims of a power outage resulting from a powerful storm that moved through the area very quickly. In addition, our area was suffering through an epic heat wave, and this combination of events posed significant – and life threatening—problems.
After finally returning to normal, I’ve had some time to reflect on a truly remarkable – if not difficult – experience.
Caring for animals, both in the shelter itself and in the medical center is made much more difficult without the ability to keep critical medicine cold, make ice, wash towels and keep animals’ body temperatures at safe levels. From the moment we lost power, our dedicated staff went to work to ensure the safety and well-being of our animals. In addition, our absolutely fantastic network of friends, donors, fosters and concerned citizens sprang into action as soon as we made appeals for supplies, ice, gasoline for generators and clean towels.
There are many stories of compassion and concern from that week, including:
- A gentleman personally delivered 600 lbs. of ice that enabled our staff to construct makeshift air conditioners (buckets of ice with fans blowing over them) that helped keep the actual shelter area a tolerable temperature for the animals. The ice also made for a nice treat in water bowls!
- Countless concerned people stopped by the shelter with gas cans – sometimes five gallons, sometimes one gallon – that all contributed to keeping our portable generators running for lights.
- Our foster volunteers mobilized and we sent virtually every dog or cat that may have been more at-risk due to age, size, etc. to a foster home until we regained power.
- Finally, many, many people donated financially to assist us in offsetting costs associated with the outage (renting generators, fuel, etc.) We are very grateful for your kindness and generosity.
It’s times like this that I realize how fortunate we are to work in an industry of very caring and passionate people. I’m very proud of our staff and the difficult tasks they accomplished to keep our shelter running and providing care for animals. Our staff is truly dedicated to the cause and many of them came in to work for the animals in spite of the fact that the power had caused problems at their own homes.
I’m also very proud of the network of supporters that stepped up when they were needed most. As soon as we put the word out that we needed assistance, they were there lending a hand, assisting where we needed help.
Much like we see when we rescue animals from natural disasters, the caring nature of people involved in animal welfare is always inspirational. It’s great to see and it reminds me how fortunate I am to work in an industry that I truly love.
Once again, thanks to everyone who helped us “weather the storm!”
Mary Jarvis is the Chief Operating Officer for the Washington Animal Rescue League. She has been in the animal welfare field for more than 10 years.