“We took care of 71 dogs and cats on Friday; another 70 or so today, and will probably spay and neuter another 40 to 50 on Sunday.”
I hear these words from Shelby Davis, co-founder of Soul Dog Rescue, while my family had dinner with her at a restaurant in Chinle, Ariz. She coordinates the work of Soul Dog volunteer veterinarians and their assistants who provide health care for thousands of owned, abandoned and homeless animals. The team sets up temporary clinics to triage the sometimes life-threatening problems of animals in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
“We try to work with local organizations and individuals in an effort to establish ongoing clinics that can deal with these issues after we leave,” Shelby says. She smiles in an attempt to hide her exhaustion after spending more than 12 grueling hours overseeing the treatment of every affliction imaginable.
Shelby is a director for the ASPCA office in New York City where she manages much of the organization’s spay/neuter related operations. She began Soul Dog Rescue in 2009 after losing her own dog to cancer. Since then, she has worked tirelessly to help reduce the birthrate of cats and dogs in rural areas in the Southwest. Each week, Shelby coordinates the transportation of the equipment and supplies required to the site of the current clinic.
Shelby also works with the team’s volunteers to get animals to the clinic for necessary medical treatment. In the process, Shelby will often take on the most arduous tasks herself. Whether it means she has to chase down a cat through brush and cactus or crawl under a house to retrieve a litter of puppies, Shelby lets no obstacle stand in the way of her objective.
Back at the clinic, everything runs as smoothly as in a well-run clinic for human patients. Seasoned veterinarians perform the surgeries in a professional and organized atmosphere. Each patient is treated as an individual; especially when the animals are in recovery. As I watched the volunteers working, I was impressed with how they sat with their assigned patient, assuring that the animal’s recovery would go off without a hitch.
The locals who brought animals to the clinic all praised Soul Dog Rescue saying how much they appreciated the efforts of the team.
Despite the long hours and lack of pay, Shelby said she can’t stop. “Sometimes I ask myself ‘Why me? Why can’t I just go on with my life and let someone else do this?’” Rubbing her hands through her hair, she shrugged. “It’s just the idea that every time we prevent one more animal from giving birth, we save a number of animals from dying unnecessarily.”
If you would like to learn more about Soul Dog Rescue, visit their Web site at www.souldog.org.