Follow the adventures of our Emergency Response Team as they help to care for felines in need in conjunction with the ASPCA!
photo (L-R): Aaron Harrington, Deb DeVogt, Cody Carlson, and Lena Hernandez
January 7, 2017: Four Cat Depot staff members are being deployed today for a rescue mission, working in tandem with the ASPCA. They will be helping animals in need and we thank them for their efforts.
It's clear that our Senior Affairs Adviser, Honey, supports the team by helping to distribute the deployment t-shirts!
January 7, 2017: Despite the crazy weather in Florida the night before, everything cleared out by the afternoon and we thought it would be smooth sailing, or flying as it may be. However, there was this unfamiliar phenomenon called "snowing" happening all along the east coast.
So we made the most of our wait playing card games and eating overpriced airport food. We finally arrived after a brief four hour delay and an extended flight from having to circle in the air seven times before landing. We were greeted with frigid wind and blowing snow. The wait for the cab was the longest 15 minutes of our day.
At the hotel, they tried to room Aaron and I together, because apparently Cody is too masculine of a name. Since another room would have to be approved by the higher ups, us three girls are cramming into a room that's barely big enough for two beds.
We got a quick bite of Chinese delivered by scooter and now it's off to bed.
January 8, 2017: We had a fantastic first day. We met a lot of great people and even saw some familiar faces from previous deployments.
Lena spent the day with the animal care team, prepping food and even leading the cleaning of the ringworm quarantine area. Deb, Aaron, and I were assigned to the medical team. We spent the day assisting some awesome vets doing exams and administering treatments for some of the more ill animals.
Despite how cruddy most of these animals must be feeling, they are still super sweet and affectionate. I believe they know we are trying to help them and they are truly grateful. It's horrible to think of the outcome most of these cats would have faced if the amazing team at the ASPCA had not stepped up to care for them.
We are are so humbled by this experience and cannot wait for what the next few days hold.
P.S. Lunch was awesome; a potato bar with all the fixings. And then we topped it off with some amazing pizza!
January 10, 2017: Yesterday was a very long day at the shelter.
Deb continued to work with the medical team and unfortunately had a lot of very sick kitties to treat. However she did a great job helping her team run more efficiently.
Aaron and I were assigned to the daily care team. He had one of the hardest areas as it was all individually caged cats. My area was half cages and half pods. We both had a rather large number of bite quarantine and bite risk cats in our areas which just made the task of cleaning that much more exciting.
Lena was given the new task of working with cats that were very sick or anorexic to get them to eat. It hadn't been done before and Lena had a lot of success with them. The medical team was very excited because these were the cats that weren't getting better with just the medication alone. She also spent time with some of the under-socialized cats and kittens to get them used to being handled.
Media has reported at the shelter in the afternoon, taking pictures and interviewing people. We'll have to keep an eye out to see if any of us make it into the story. We had a rather quiet evening, going to dinner at a Mexican restaurant and then playing games back at the hotel. Back to the grind tomorrow.
January 11, 2017: Our third day on the job was very similar to yesterday as we were all assigned the same jobs in the same areas.
Lena continued to work her magic helping the needier cats to eat. Deb got to see the familiar glow of ringworm, which fondly reminded her of home. Aaron has been a rock star at cleaning and always finishes his section early so he can help other people out.
I had the chance to create a "kitten castle" out of cardboard boxes for one of my kitten pods. The kittens seemed to thoroughly enjoy climbing all over it and hiding in the cubbies. I also worked on training with one of the highly food motivated adult cats. He figured out "sit" and "high five" within a matter of minutes.
Overall, the medical team reports that the majority of the cats are improving. They are also preparing to start moving healthy cats out of the quarantined hot zone. Happy days!
January 12, 2017: Some of Lena's critical care patients that she had been working closely with improved well enough to be moved to the general population!
I worked with the medical team again. We spent extra time working with a diabetic FIV+ cat and a cat with a pelvic fracture that had both come in the day before.
Aaron has been working in the same pod so he is really getting to know the cats in his section. His favorite (and Lena's too) is a big, friendly brown tabby male with one eye that is so dilated it looks completely black.
We are bummed tomorrow is our last day here, but honestly we're looking forward to not having to wear all this PPE on a daily basis!
January 13, 2017: Our final day on the job was bittersweet. We continued to get to know the cats and our fellow responders.
Deb learned a lot about the kitten nursery here in New York. The NY Times story about the shelter was published online and will be in the Sunday print edition.
Lena was semi-mentioned in the article: she was the caretaker who got Freya to eat and finally turn the corner towards recovery.
Us three girls celebrated our final night in the city with dinner and getting tattoos!
Friday morning we thoroughly enjoyed the extra hour we got to stay in bed. And then we got an awesome surprise when we walked out of the hotel to see a limo parked outside waiting to take us to the airport!
The rest of our travels were uneventful and are happy to be home!