(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Over the weekend, ANNA Shelter assisted 37 animals during a 24-hour period, along with additional animals throughout the April 29 to May 1 span.
The busy weekend was caused by a series of calls to the shelter.
“There’s one thing like that every weekend. I can handle one disaster a week. But just having four in a row, just like bam, bam, bam, bam — It was harder than normal for sure,” said ANNA Shelter founder and director Ruth Thompson.
According to a Facebook post from the Association for Needy and Neglected Animals (ANNA) Cruelty/Neglect Division, the shelter was called on April 29 about five dogs being dumped in a field. The shelter recovered two of the dogs – one of which soon gave birth to three puppies. The remaining three dogs had not been recovered as of May 2.
On Saturday, April 30, the shelter responded to multiple calls, including a call about three cats with “an undetermined number of kittens” in an abandoned trailer.
Another call that same day reported 17 puppies from two different litters in a trailer.
Pennsylvania State Police then called about the pending removal of a neglected dog that was reportedly “near death.” By the time PSP served a warrant, the dog had died, but the remaining dogs at the location were removed.
Later in the day, PSP requested the shelter’s help in the investigation of a deceased dog found in a trash bag in the woods. According to the shelter’s Facebook post, “the location and condition of the body were suspicious.” Shelter veterinarian Dr. Sarah Zeigler performed necropsies on the dog the next day.
“So, ya, this weekend we were reminded of why we are aptly named the Association for Needy and Neglected animals – 37 unexpected needy and neglected animals on intake in less than 24 hours… that’s how our weekend was!!!” the shelter wrote in its Facebook post.
Thompson said in general the work they do is not easy on the staff at ANNA Shelter. But a busy weekend like this past weekend is an added stress.
“Compassion fatigue is real. On the daily, these guys are dealing with situations that normal people aren’t dealing with. I try to keep them well fed and in good spirits,” Thompson said. “All of the sudden it’s a Saturday, and already Saturdays are a short-staffed day, and now people are having to come in and work extra and see things people don’t normally see.
“This is hard for me. This is who I am, so I’m burdened by my soul, but for everybody else, it’s their job. I do feel bad seeing the girls cry about a bad of dead dogs. All around, it’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.”
Not every part of working for a shelter is negative. There’s always the good moments when the animals have found a new, loving home. The new owners often shares photos with the shelter, sometimes even 10 years later. The emaciated puppy is now a happy, well-fed senior dog in a warm house. The shelter maintains an album of those photos called “Happy Tails,” and sometimes Thompson scrolls through that album to find a moment of happiness within the chaos.
This weekend wasn’t yet a Happy Tails moment — instead, it was just a painful grind of rescuing animal after animal.
“I don’t cry very often. I’m a pretty tough girl. I cried this weekend. It was mostly just from exhaustion,” Thompson said.
Nobody at the shelter is going it alone, Thompson said. She commended the staff, and the ANNA Family.
“It’s not about me, it’s about this whole team. It’s Team ANNA. And I named it the shelter ANNA for a reason — it’s not the Ruth Shelter,” Thompson said. “We have the Anna Family, too — there was an outpouring of support, and so many people walked in here today to bring us a bottle of bleach.”
While the weekend was busy with rescues, the weekdays have been busy finding homes. On May 3, Thompson was awaiting a phone call from someone who was ready to adopt one of the shelter’s previously rescued goats. Meanwhile she took at least three breaks from a brief phone interview to cheerfully thank people in the shelter.
For news delivered right to you, subscribe to JET 24/FOX 66/YourErie.com’s breaking, daily news & severe weather email lists
“I just remind myself that there’s an end goal. But the older I get, the more tired I am,” Thompson said.