In November 2020, The LuvPug Foundation members Kelly, Anne and I (Angela) volunteered with Red Fern Animal Shelter in western Tennessee, an outdoor shelter that currently cares for 130 cats and 70 dogs. Many of the dogs and cats have resided there for up to 10 years.
While they are provided with food and vet care, most have never experienced the comfort of a home environment, a warm bed and daily attention. No background history is known for the many dogs and cats who are dumped on the property or picked up by Kim or Anne after someone in the area calls asking for help for a homeless animal they found.
Kim and her sister Anne, the owners of the rescue, love all of the animals in their care and do the best they can. On the first day we volunteered, I was drawn to a particular cat named Lucy. She had tiny slits where eyes should be and was blind. I was told she was found under a dumpster in 2013 and had been passed over time and again when people would look for a cat to adopt.￼
When I first met her, she was skittish but friendly. There were two other cats in her kennel, Ester & Simi, that she was with and they all appeared to be buddies. I ￼asked Kim if I could bring Lucy back home with me to foster and get her vet care that she might need.
I was grateful to be able to bring her back, and get her medical care which includes extensive dental work, and it has been heartwarming to see her transformation. Lucy is such a loving, affectionate cat. She lost so many years waiting in the kennel for someone to give her attention and for her to give her love in return.
But I also felt a sense of guilt for not being able to bring back more because I knew that (with help and support) I could provide a few more with a loving home environment and give them attention that many of them are desperate. With regards to basic neccessities, the cats and dogs are fed twice a day, there is always water and they have a visiting vet who comes weekly to check on them and tend to any medical issues that some have. Sometimes there are volunteers who come and socialize and play with the cats and dogs and help clean the kennels and litter boxes.
Sadly, many of the dogs and cats are there for too long, never having been adopted.
Kim keeps several hospice dogs in her house, which is about an acre away from the kennels. These dogs have lost bladder and bowel control, and have to wear diapers and are paralyzed. Still Kim continues to give them the best quality of life she can, until they inevitably need to be put to sleep.
As sad as it is, it frees up space for another dog from the kennels who has never been in a family environment or gotten the attention and love that many of our own pets get every day.
These inspirational women are both in their 60’s with full time jobs and too few volunteers. animals frequently, and many end up at Red Fern. Unlike many shelters, Anne and Kim would never euthanize an animal to make space for another one, but they need help desperately. They do not have enough volunteers or funding. In the past when some other rescues have reached out to ‘take some animals off their hands,’ they never heard from them again. Understandably they had every right to be skeptical when The LuvPug Foundation sought them out when we decided to do an animal outreach volunteer trip.
But that visit changed so much for us all. For me, bringing Lucy back wasn’t enough.
For more than five weeks I researched and networked to figure out how to transport cats and dogs with safety protocols and state regulations in place and get them up here to foster and hopefully adopt out.
While I’m no stranger to animal rescue, this was a side of animal rescue I was not experienced in. I was on the verge of flying down to Nashville and renting a van and driving them all up myself or hopefully with a friend. Thankfully stars aligned and I came across (coincidentally named) Red Fern Ranch, an animal rescue transport service. I reached out to their Facebook page and began messaging with owner Bill and I worked out a plan with Kim of the Red Fern Animal Shelter (neither Red Fern knew about the other, again it was a coincidental name) to transport three cats and a dog that I had met while volunteering. Bill would be picking them up at a location in Tennessee, where Kim and Anne could drop the animals off and the final destination would be Connecticut, where I would pick them up.
The journey ended safely. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and relief at how successful this was for the animals. Pippa the dog is now an experienced foster home, and I am fostering the cats, Ester, Simi & Cece.
Because all of them have been living in an outdoor kennel for 3 to 10 years, we will be getting them any necessary medical care, grooming and assessing the types of families for which they would be best suited.
I cannot express my gratitude enough for everyone who helps make this possible. The LuvPug Foundation is a newer 501c3 nonprofit, and our funds are very limited, but because of generous donors, supporters of our fundraising efforts, people who have done birthday fundraisers and donations of supplies from our Amazon Wishlist, we have been able to provide health check ups, vaccinations, and ongoing medical care for many animals, as well as help other rescues with the animals in their care.
(Thank you if you’re still reading this, I promise I’m almost done )
On behalf of everyone affiliated with The LuvPug Foundation, we are grateful and appreciate all your support. Miss Lucy, who started this journey, thanks you as well.
Sometimes, not only does it take a village, but it takes the next two towns