Last night, we went to bed looking at the 70% chance of thunderstorms predicted for today. But we also knew we had a fully booked clinic today and starting at 8 am, people would be in their cars lined up around the block at FFL.
70% chance of thunderstorms. 0% chance we were going to let our community down.
The morning treated us to some wicked thunderstorms, but it didn’t slow us down. One of our staffers donated the tent she got married under and between that and the mobile vehicle, we found higher—if not too much drier—ground. The animals were arriving in a steady stream. Now in our 5th clinic day together, the tribe that is already in tune is on our way to seamless in this new version of how we spend our weekends.
Getting a ride from Humble, a client who lost her income stream had booked the very first appointment for Zen, her very sick 10-year-old kitty. Congested and dehydrated, Zen patiently accepted the warm sub-Q fluids and antibiotics. On departing, he looked a bit brighter and his mom looked a bit calmer.
Neighbors in need of help showed up to get care and food for their pets, and we KNOW today will have a ripple effect. Fewer animals will get sick, fewer families will face distress. Families drove from Galveston to get to this clinic. We saw clients from 5th Ward, Katy, League City, and Pearland.
After every clinic, we discuss, tweak, update SOPs, brainstorm better flow, and learn from each other.
Our dog behaviorist, drenched from shoring up the tent in Houston-thunderstorm winds, helped calm frightened dogs for blood draws. She was called dog to dog to dog as blood draw teams struggled with dogs in the crashing thunder. With her help, we ALWAYS got the draw and her singular focus on keeping us attentive to body language, calming signals, and great husbandry practices, the dogs felt safe.
Our TNR-pro transformed into vet tech extraordinaire and wrangled even the most fractious cats for everything from rabies vaccines to delicate ophthalmic procedures.
Our communications lead went car to car in the rain, checked clients in, explained the set up to them and became part therapist, part cheerleader and part traffic controller for a community as new to all of this as we are.
Our admin staff ran the food bank distribution like clockwork and our adoptions manager deftly handled paperwork, rabies certificates, medical notes, resource lists for clients.
Our trained animal runners brought animals from cars to the clinic safely and sometimes had to bring them back with difficult news. A third of the heartworm tests we ran were positive. Several feline leukemia tests were positive.
There were tumors, sick puppies and the last patient of the day—arriving in an oatmeal box at 5:30PM—was an 8-day old kitten. Of course, we named her Oatmeal and she is snuggled in with one of our clinic volunteers who worked all day and can kiss a night’s sleep goodbye for about 4 more weeks.
At one point, as we were all soaked to the skin and hunched over blood tests or trying to attach water-logged vaccine stickers to water-logged paperwork, one of our tribe emerged with an armload of warm towels fresh from the dryer and draped them over each of our shoulders.
You can’t write that into an SOP. That’s the heart of a tribe. That’s the truth of how people will show you who they are in a crisis.
That is certainly true of our MVP for the day, Dr. Trevino.
He thinks we don’t know he’s Batman, our silent guardian, and watchful protector but we know that when we flash that bat signal he will answer. (Our bat signal was a call on Friday morning asking him to take the spot of a sick vet.) Soaking wet, switching between cats and dogs, the minor and the major, he was our conductor. Everyone had their part to play but Dr. T kept us in sync and on time. He knew just when to say, “Isn’t this fun?” and when to swoop in and deftly hit a vein that seemed impossible to us. Dr. Trevino examined every cat and dog and tended to minor issues, like swollen ears, itchy skin, and a scratched eye. There were major issues as well, like a chest tumor and the difficult discussion that an owner had combined four cats that had gone indoor/outdoor and all were leukemia positive. We love you, Dr. T! You are definitely, the hero that Gotham—and FFL—needs!
As if on cue, our schedule was packed with cats today. We can be here for people and pets in crisis because you’re here for us. We love you, ACA! #thankyoualleycatallies
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Let’s rally the humans! #BeUnsheltered