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September 2, 2011

Volunteer Amy Bogart Refocuses Quickly on Hurricane Cleanup

"They can tell that we’re taking good care of their animals, that we love them, that they mean a lot to us.”

by Michael Sharp

Amy Bogart spent last weekend in Gainesville, Fla., volunteering to help with the largest cat adoption event in HSUS history.

On Monday, after some 240 cats found new homes, Bogart headed north again. But instead of returning home to Columbus, Ohio, she stayed along the East Coast, her week far from over.

Bogart is now one of about 10 volunteers playing a key role for The HSUS in North Carolina, where the organization is assisting pet owners and animals in the wake of Hurricane Irene. She helped set up an emergency pet shelter at the Craven County Fairgrounds, and is now helping to care for the animals and ensure things run smoothly.

Pamlico County, N.C., residents: Call 877-822-3343 for temporary shelter for your pets.

As of Friday afternoon, the shelter was housing 70 animals, including 50 dogs, 16 cats, a horse, a rabbit, a parrot, and a pet turtle. The shelter reunited a lost Labrador mix with his family Friday morning.

Helping traumatized pets and people

"They all come in here with pretty good temperaments," Bogart said. "They’re traumatized by what they’ve been through, and some of them are not in the best shape, but they’re all just extraordinarily loving animals. They’re very friendly. They want to be loved. They want to give you kisses. So, they’re just so happy to be around people who are taking good care of them."

Always an animal lover, Bogart left her job as a finance operations executive last summer, returning to school to enroll in a vet tech program. She also began volunteering on HSUS deployments, from the care of about 200 pit bulls rescued from a dogfighting operation in Ohio last year, to a temporary shelter in Kennett, Mo., for pets affected by Mississippi River flooding.

Want to help? Text LOVE to 20222 to donate $10 to support our Disaster Relief Fund as we work to help pets affected by Hurricane Irene.

"On the people side of it, you know, these people, they’re devastated, they’re traumatized," Bogart said, adding: "Helping alleviate the people’s concerns by just showing them we have a well-running facility here, it makes a big difference. They can tell that we’re taking good care of their animals, that we love them, that they mean a lot to us."

Reassurance during tough times

She pointed to one North Carolina family, whose home was devastated by the hurricane. Their rabbit, two cats, and pug are all now staying temporarily at the emergency shelter, and the family came to visit Thursday.

"They came in in tears," Bogart said, "and she left saying, ‘I feel good now. I can tell you guys are taking great care of our animals. I was really worried, now I’m not worried.’"

"I mean, I even offered to her, I said ‘I was just about to take your pug on a walk, do you want to do it?’ And at first, she said ‘I do.’"

"And then when she saw that we were ready to take great care of her pug, she said, ‘You know what, you go ahead and do it.’"

Michael Sharp is assistant managing editor for The HSUS's All Animals magazine.

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