A Sacramento organization with a 30-year track record of caring for animals is closely watching Hurricane Harvey’s progress.
Should they be needed, RedRover's volunteers are poised to swoop in to aid and shelter displaced pets.
“RedRover is kind of like the American Red Cross for animals,” said Nichole Forsyth, president and CEO of the Sacramento-based national organization. “So we’re basically helping animals whenever there’s a major crisis and a community that can’t handle the amount of influx of animals. We set up temporary shelters to help them.”
Based out of a small East Sacramento office, the group boasts an impressive network of some 4,000 volunteers nationwide to call on in emergencies including hurricanes, flooding and fires as well as animal hoarding, puppy mills or pretty much any other situation in which the number of animals needing housing exceeds their community’s ability to immediately accommodate them.
The effort requires quick action in rapidly unfolding, unpredictable situations. Fortunately for people and the animals in their lives, RedRover’s volunteers are passionate and enthusiastic, said Beth Gammie, director of field services.
“We just hear time and time again that volunteering with us and doing disaster response is among the most meaningful things they’ve ever done to help animals. Because they’re coming into a situation that is likely the worst thing that person and their animals have gone through… and we can come in and help,” she said.
The long days of work and stress pay off when they can sooth a distraught dog or comfort a cat – and to see the looks of joy on their faces when their people return to claim them.
RedRover has responded in recent local emergencies like this year’s Wall Fire and the Oroville Dam scare – very quick turnaround events, Forsyth said. But it extends the reach of its assistance across the country and into Canada. RedRover assisted after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, as well as many other natural disasters.
RedRover also has programs assisting low-income people with emergency veterinary care; going into schools to help children learn about animal behavior and develop empathy skills; and assisting people trying to leave abusive relationships, but having difficulty due to difficulty in housing their pets while they seek permanent housing.
The group encourages donations to assist with its animal rescue and sheltering mission.
“if people want to donate to our emergency fund they can go on our website RedRover.org and do that,” Forsyth said. “We’re always building that fund and even if we don’t go to this one for some reason -- which is kind of hard to imagine at this point -- but if we didn’t, it goes to the next one so it’s a really great way people can help.”