ASPCA Rescue - Day 3
With half the work week now behind them, the wear and tear of the daily physical labor is beginning to take a toll on our team. Although they are assigned a specific dog section at the beginning of each day, they are all charged with working as a team to help take care of the nearly 300 rescued dogs housed at this facility.
To give you an idea of the work load, here's a typical day:
Each day, a responder along with a support staff member is assigned a dog section. Within that section, dogs are housed in individual pens. Before entering each section, responders must spray the bottoms of their shoes with a disinfectant. Next, they put on personal protective equipment of booties and gloves. Then they enter the section. The job begins with feeding and completing a daily observation log for each dog. Next, they lift an extra large airline crate that is housed on top of each dog pen to the floor. Using their best handling skills, they move the dog out of his pen and into the dog crate in order to clean the cage. Many of the dogs are jumping at the cage door, while others are cowering in the back on their cage. Each type presents a challenge.
While this process is happening, the responders are making note of the dog's behavior to mark on a daily behavior chart. After picking up the waste, toys, water bucket and bed, they spray it down with an accelerated cleanser. The dog cage is swept, mopped and reset with a cleaned bed, fresh water, toys, etc. The dog is placed back into his cage and the crate is then stored on top of his pen for the next day. Working in assembly line fashion for maximum efficiency, each of the two workers in an area alternate and performs one step in this process so that no fewer than eight dog cages are being cleaned in one cycle.
Once all the dogs in that section are cleaned, the entire section is swept and mopped and garbage removed. Because these are fighting pit bulls and their arousal triggers are unpredictable it is paramount to quickly but calmly move them from cage to crate and then from crate back into their cage. Safe handling skills and situational awareness is of the utmost importance. After a section is completed, responders check in with the shelter team leader and assist with another work team in a different section.
In all, nearly 300 rescued dogs need to be cleaned and cared for in this manner during the morning hours. This continues until lunch. After lunch there is a quick meeting and new tasks are assigned. These may include skills training, decon, enrichment, or preparing the second feedings. After responders complete their special assignments, they return to their dog section to administer the evening feedings, complete the daily observation log, spot clean each dog pen and restock supplies. Lunch is the only time responders are not moving, carrying, lifting or pushing something around.
But despite the physical demands, there is always an overwhelming hearty sense of accomplishment at the end of each day for all responders.