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Meet the Responders of Hurricane Sandy
Read about some of Animal League America's Hurricane Sandy responders and their rescue efforts.
Displaced Animals Find Shelter and Love
It's an old but true saying: There's no place like home. Everyone displaced by Hurricane Sandy knows the truth of those simple five words in a profound way, as many have lost nearly everything to the storm's devastating power.
Many of North Shore Animal League America's staff and volunteers have been affected by Sandy, but their dedication to caring for animals in need is as powerful as ever.
"Just like humans, animals are attached to their home environments, and being in a new location isn't easy for them," says Kirsten Dudick, a kennel associate at Animal League America who has been caring for animals at the emergency animal shelter at Mitchel Field nearly every day since the storm hit. "But we spend a lot of time getting to know each animal, making them feel as comfortable as possible--not just physically, but emotionally, too."
Kirsten and all of the rescue team members grow very attached to the animals in their care. "We really do fall in love with all of them," says Kirsten, adding that they also develop close relationship with the families and individuals who have entrusted them with their pets' care.
"I feel a very strong sense of responsibility to these people, and I'd never let them down," she says. "When they arrive here to reunite with their animals, it's the best feeling in the world. They thank us, but I tell them it was a privilege to have helped in any way during a really difficult time for them."
(Pictured above: Kirsten takes Cade for some fresh air on Monday, November 5.)
Customer Service At Its Best
During a typical day, Greg Walunas handles numerous phone calls that come in to North Shore Animal League America, with people asking questions on dozens of issues--everything from adoption advice to pet health care questions to behavioral issues. Whether someone needs advice on house training their new puppy, what medicine can help clear a cough, or how to adopt that adorable kitten whose photo they saw on our website, Greg and the rest of the team in the customer service department are often the first people they reach.
"It's our job to figure out what each caller needs, and if we can't answer their question, we direct them to the staff person at Animal League America who can," says Greg, our senior customer service representative. Greg knows the ins and outs of virtually every department at Animal League America, and he has provided valuable information and help to thousands of callers since he joined the organization.
When Greg's workday is done, he often heads over to our adoption center to volunteer during his off hours, helping care for the hundreds of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens who are up for adoption at Animal League America 365 days a year.
"Spending time with the animals is my favorite part of my day," says Greg. "And the best moments of all are when a formerly homeless animal meets the individual or family who will take them home and give them a lifetime of love."
As Animal League America and its partners in animal welfare continue to rescue and care for animals displaced by Hurricane Sandy, Greg has spent nearly every day at the emergency animal shelter at Mitchel Field, where over 200 animals have found shelter since the storm hit on Sunday, October 28.
Whether he's tasked with walking, feeding, or soothing animals at the shelter, Greg puts the same high level of compassion and dedication into the job that he does during a normal workweek at our Port Washington, NY, headquarters.
"I know it's hard for people to leave their pets here, especially during such a difficult time, when many have lost their homes and all their possessions," says Greg. "Their animals may be the only thing they have left in the world, and that's why we treat them as if they were our own. I was so lucky during the storm--my family and my pets are safe. The least I can do is make sure every animal here is given the love and care it deserves."