November 20, 2018

This Thanksgiving, Hawkeye and Deacon have new forever-homes, thanks to Hampden-Sydney Animal Rescue Community president Shaun Everson '20.

A Forever-home for the Holidays

Shaun Everson '20 ARC President stands in fornt of Morton HallHawkeye 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."

Hawkeye the cat smiles as he sleeps

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.

ARC is one of the things that makes H-SC distinctive. Every time the Hampden-Sydney community is aware of a need they respond generously.

Dr. Julia Palmer, ARC advisor

Deacon the dog takes a walkARC was originally founded as Sigma Nu Hampden-Sydney Animal Rescue Community (SHARC) in 2008, when brothers of Sigma Nu began a community service project at Prince Edward County Animal Shelter. What started as weekly visits to the shelter grew into a community-wide initiative generously supported by students, faculty, and staff, so SHARC was later shortened to ARC. Dr. Julia Palmer, ARC advisor and associate professor of modern languages, believes that ARC is one of the things that makes H-SC distinctive: "Every time the Hampden-Sydney community is aware of a need they respond generously. They are really receptive to our mission." Over the years, many professors and administrators have adopted ARC dogs and cats, themselves. Dr. Palmer's guidance has been invaluable to Shaun and his work with the club, but she says that she has never met someone as hardworking, dedicated, and willing to sacrifice as Shaun describing him as "a force of nature but extremely humble." Without hesitation, she says, "He's a delightful student and I am confident about sending him out into the world."

Shaun hopes that in the future, ARC can get back to some of its founding concepts, including an animal education component at Prince Edward County Schools. Realizing that the barrier to adopting a pet is often financial, he would like to establish a fund that pays for the sheltered animals' medical treatments so they are more adoptable in the Prince Edward County community.

Shaun is happy to report that Deacon will finally be well enough for his new home on Thanksgiving. Indeed, both Hawkeye and Deacon will be spending their first Thanksgivings warm and well cared-for with their new families, which is definitely something to be thankful for.

More News Stories

  • Luke, a white lab, is all smiles about his adoption

  • 5 members of the Animal Rescue Community Club

    ARC executive members, left to right: Noah Domikis ’20, Andrew Howell ’20, Shaun Everson ’20 (President), Dylan Cate ’20, Ethan Gaines ’20

  • Johna, a friendly hound mix, found his home last year

  • Prince was rescued last summer and is now happy and healthy

  • a dog on the floor

    Scout, a playful German Shepherd, was adopted in 2018

  • a dog exercising in the yard

    Sam, an affectionate Rottweiler, was adopted last year

  • a dog jumping through an agility hoop

    Ollie, one of the first dogs to be adopted back in 2009, has gone on to be very successful in agility competitions

  • a cat on a porch

    This young male cat belongs to the Hampden-Sydney community

  • a cat curled up on the couch

    Hawkeye is recovering every day and enjoying his new home


If you want to help ARC

  1. Come walk or play with the foster animals.
  2. Make a donation.
  3. Buy a T-Shirt.
  4. Follow ARC on Facebook and Instagram
  5. Contact Dr. Julia Palmer for more information.    
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