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One Volunteer's Experience During the Joplin Deployment
May 2011

I want to take a moment to share an incredible experience. My business keeps me busy about 15 or 16 hours every day and taking off is a real hassle. Many of you also have work or commitments that keep you busy. But please find the time to HELP this organization help others. You will be rewarded ten fold - ok maybe eight fold.

Just before Memorial Day weekend Julie called Linda Stevens from Joplin, MO - bodies to help 600 + dogs were in very short supply. The distress and need for help could be heard in Julie's voice. Four hours later and after making arrangements for our four legged critters, Linda and I were on the road to Joplin. I had planned to spend my weekend preparing for trial and 40 other hearings set for Tuesday and Wednesday.

We reported for duty at 6:45 AM at the crisis sheltering facility in Joplin. It consisted of three huge warehouses next to the Joplin Humane Society. Several other wonderful CAART members also reported as well as three ladies from Douglas County. We got signed in, we got taped up ( ok, we got duct tape slapped on us with our name on it) and Field General Julie gave us a briefing on what to do - and what not to do. She paired this novice with an experienced team leader named Pam - a vet tech from Florida and a millionaire property manager from Florida, a dispatcher from somewhere I can't remember and a student nurse from Missouri.

"This without a doubt was one of the most
fulfilling things I've done in years. It is great
to be part of this organization."

What did I learn on the job?

1) Follow the chain of command. Julie is nationally known, nationally respected (and locally) and is in demand. My team leader from Florida assists in lots of operations and respects the operational savvy of Julie and Phil above all others.

2) The dogs were divided into pods. The strays or dogs with no identified owners were on one side of the building and owner identified dogs on the other. The dogs were further sub divided on some further basis - of which I have no idea. Our pod had 51 dogs from big to little, from shy to noisy. Once assigned to a pod you cannot enter any other pod. The reason is prevention of potential disease.

3) You can choose to clean crates or walk the dogs. Wear the most comfortable and durable shoes you can because you will walk through gravel, mud, poop, cement, grass, etc. Each type of dog - had restricted walk areas - stray v. owned. Again to prevent disease. I would suggest to Team CAART - that for any future summer jobs we invest in dri fit shirts. It does make a world of difference.

3) Water bowls go on the left side of the crate so the dogs don't knock them over when you open the door. Stay 10 feet away from every other dog walker.

4) Don't forget to observe and record on the dog's chart - his/her appetite, urination, and bowel functions. Additionally you are called upon to observe each one of these precious animals and detail and report problems up the chain of command. You do have the power to help these animals - I had one little lady, that was so matted, I asked my team leader to arrange to have her shaved - she was. Many of them are frightened, and spending a little extra time with them makes a difference.

5) When members of the public enter the secure facility looking for their lost dog and a match is made, there is not a dry eye in the place. Be prepared to cry.

6) Lots of owners are lousy about keeping the dogs nails trimmed.

7) Pace yourself and don't be afraid to take appropriate breaks. And drink lots of water - or gator aid. The facility was approaching 100 degrees and even hotter outside. My team leader was an energizer bunny - and I could not and should not try and keep up with her. Wear comfortable pants - I'm not wearing jeans again.

8) Jane did great as security. And what a cheerleader. With every dog walk I made, she motivated me on or had a kind word.

9) Read up on rigor mortis - because if you have a desk job like me, it will set in at the end of the day of a hard and I mean really hard day's work. And you will creak in the morning when you get up, if you can get up. I understand that Dave Sterbenz gave a good remedy for this at the meeting last night: Take a spoonful of baking soda in a glass of water before going to sleep.

10) When you go home, disrobe and wash your clothes and shoes before you enter your house - save your own babies from any disease.

11) One body does make a difference, so please consider helping. Before I arrived, Pat and Pam cared for 51 dogs by themselves. On my first day, five parties were available in the morning. By afternoon we had three. An extra person would have made it so much easier.

This without a doubt was one of the most fulfilling things I've done in years. It is great to be part of this organization.

Darcy Williamson,
Topeka, KS

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