A Forever-home for the Holidays
Hawkeye and Deacon have a lot to be grateful for. They both have new homes, thanks to Hampden-Sydney's Animal Rescue Community (ARC) and one very dedicated animal lover, ARC president Shaun Everson '20.
Last week, Hawkeye, a feral and malnourished kitten, was found in Farmville with a severe wound to his eye. Jennifer Cochrane, H-SC Communications and Marketing Administrative Assistant, had already rescued him, taken him to the vet, and begun nursing him back to health when she remembered that Hampden-Sydney has its own student organization committed to domestic animal rescue. She contacted Shaun Everson to see if ARC could help. Coincidentally, one of ARC's priorities this year is to gain control of the feral cat population in and around Hampden-Sydney—by capturing them, having them spayed or neutered, and then re-released—so Shaun was eager to offer the Cochranes support.
Pleasantly surprised with his response, Cochrane said, "My family would have taken care of Hawkeye no matter what, but the Animal Rescue Community alleviated a big financial burden so we could focus on providing him with the best possible care."
As it turns out, Shaun and the other ARC members know exactly how much care and responsibility is involved in rescuing domestic animals. It is a full-time job. With a goal of lowering the kill rates of abandoned dogs and cats, ARC fosters and cares for animals throughout the academic year. This semester, with a full load of classes, the biology major and chemistry minor has been caring for Deacon, a boxer suffering from heartworms. The required care includes giving him treatments and taking him to vet appointments, in addition to the normal feeding, cleaning, training, and socializing involved in preparing him for his new forever-home. It makes sense that Shaun has taken a special interest in Deacon—when he graduates, he hopes to become a veterinarian.
Because of the special care that Deacon has required, ARC members have not taken in as many dogs this year as they have in the past—last year, ARC rescued and re-homed five dogs. With a current membership of around 25 student volunteers, ARC has its own campus house that accommodates four members and is equipped with indoor and outdoor space to foster rescue animals.
Shaun has been committed to developing relationships with the Prince Edward County Animal Shelter and Animal Control Sheriff, is reestablishing ties with the Southside and Richmond SPCAs, and has a working relationship with Ridge Animal Hospital where John Boswell '08 has been providing services at a reduced cost. No doubt a result of the relationships he's developed, Shaun will be a veterinary technician intern at Ridge Animal Hospital next semester. But Shaun knows that it takes a village, and he hopes that this village will remain in place long after he has graduated.