Sunday, July 12, 2015

Good Deeds in the Deluge

A couple of weeks ago Bob and I got a call for help from the Florida Wild Mammal Association (that's my animal rehabber friend).  Florida State University, it seems, had tons of shelving and cages from their animal research labs stored in an old building at a former dairy farm.  The building is getting ready to fall down.  The original plan was for some faculty in animal research to tag the stuff they wanted to keep, and the rest to be thrown away.

The cages are stainless steel.  They are in excellent condition.  A wonderful woman at FSU pulled strings, fought the good fight, and got permission for these items to be donated to rehabbers and shelters.  The problem was that it was limited permission--there was a one-day window to do this, on a Friday, with short notice.  And with the requirement that all of this equipment be dragged out of the building and sorted, so that the faculty could see what they wanted.

The turnout was amazing--the building was so packed that it was hard to see what was in there--and it was in such bad shape that some of the cages couldn't be taken out because they were holding up the roof (not the ceiling--the roof).  But everyone pitched in and grabbed and carried and pushed and shoved and sorted.

It was hot, and the work was heavy, but everyone had a great attitude because we were doing this for the animals and the people who care for them.  We got a bit of a breather when the research faculty came by to tag the items they wanted to keep (OK--being honest.  We all got a bit annoyed because they acted like the Queens of May, took their own sweet time to tag the stuff while the volunteers were waiting to start loading, and didn't lift a finger to help--but I digress)
While the selection was going on--it started to drizzle.  Then rain.  Then downpour.  The ground got deeply muddy.  We huddled in the building to wait it out.  Phones came out, weather maps were consulted, and we realized that there would be no waiting it out--this storm was here to stay.   This could have been so discouraging--we had this one day to collect this for the rehabbers, and now we were stuck.
But, as the saying goes--at this point, a miracle occurred.  Every single person there headed back out of the building, wrangling heavy cages through the mud.  At first they were a bit tentative, hunching against the rain and trying to pick a way through the puddles and mud.  And then--what the heck.  After you're soaked to the skin and muddy to the knees, it just doesn't matter anymore.  Working in the deluge, people were laughing.  We were all part of something important. 
The haul?  One pickup truck and trailer load for one rehabber.  A 26-foot U-Haul for a dog and cat rescue organization.  Two pickups with 16-foot trailers for Florida Wild Mammal and a humane society.  None of these organizations could ever have afforded equipment this good.  Muddy and wet and very very tired--we were a happy group.

(note--this picture was taken just at the point that we were deciding to head out into the rain.  We were much soggier afterwards)