President and Founder of Central Virginia Regional Rescue
Lynchburg Living Editor Megan Williams:
Tell me about your entry into the rescue world.
Laura Linn: As most children of the 80s, I rambled through my days, running amuck and exploring. In particular, I had an early and undivided enthusiasm towards animals—luring in lost animals (that probably knew precisely where they were and how to return home), rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife that my cat was determined to toy with and then bequeath to me. When I was 17, I acquired my first position at a local veterinarian as a kennel attendant and was introduced to rescue in the periphery. My first interlude into the world of rescue was as much an endeavor to keep my perspective on the bigger picture as it was to help animals. My husband and I struggled for years with infertility/IVF and applying my time and dedication to a worthy cause felt preferable to concentrating on disappointments. I volunteered with another rescue for around ten years before we founded Central Virginia Regional Rescue in winter of 2016.
MW: What does a typical work day look like for you?
LL: Completely unpredictable! One day, our animals are all well, the amazing team of volunteers proficiently juggles the day-to-day tasks, and we skip along in the business of rescue without challenge or conflict. Then the next day, everything can disassemble all at once. We get a call about a dog locked in a shed in labor with 21 puppies, we spend the morning coaxing a handful of feral cats locked in a shed into traps for neuter, seven kittens in our care break out with an upper respiratory infection, an inexperienced foster family requires guidance with a new dog, and someone reaches out to return a dog they adopted six years prior. There are heart-wrenching owner surrenders where you have to sit in your car for five minutes afterwards waiting for the stinging in your eyes to pass. And then there is the privilege of watching an eight-year-old boy meet the middle aged hound dog that no one wants and adopting him without ever noticing his imperfections. It is the very highest and lowest that life has to offer.
MW: That certainly does sound unpredictable! What types of challenges does CVRR face both working with animals?
LL: There is a vast amount of emotion and unpredictability in rescue. When we pull an animal from a shelter or take in a pet, to some extent it’s akin to eating one of those jelly beans from Harry Potter where you aren’t entirely sure if it will be a nice butter toffee flavor or a really gross flavor. We try to make a sound judgment call on the foster home best matched to an animal’s individual needs, but there are often surprises. We think they are house-trained and they aren’t, or they seem calm and submissive only to arrive at their foster home as a catapulting ball of sunshine. Flexibility and a sense of humor is an absolute requirement to being a foster family.
MW: What goals do you have for CVRR in the next few years?
LL: It’s my greatest desire that, in whatever direction we sail, we continue to invest in, educate, and empathize with the people of this community. I would love to see our foster family numbers grow, not only in quantity but in the diversity of their skill sets and interests. Finding and maintaining a volunteer who is enthusiastic about fundraising would make an amazing addition to our team. I would also love for a magical “grant fairy” to join our ranks, but my daughter has informed me that fairies are restricted to collecting children’s teeth and leaving coins under pillows.
MW: What is one thing you wish people knew about CVRR that they may not know today?
LL: CVRR has no facility and virtually no overhead costs. Donations go almost exclusively to the pets in our care. Our animal intake isn’t based solely on what is cute and coveted by the public. We help the animals that most need our help, and we help as many of them as we can responsibly and financially support. That means everyone is spayed, neutered, vaccinated, heartworm-tested (and treated when positive). Since we were founded, we have rescued nearly 2000 animals and we are eager to make a difference in the next 2000 lives.
You don’t have to sacrifice every bit of your time to make a difference with us. You don’t have to foster animals to save lives. Every part of this mechanism is important and valued, from the volunteers who bake and deliver cookies monthly to our partnering businesses to the person who comes weekly to our storage shed to organize. We have volunteers who write thank you notes and answer emails, individuals who focus their time assisting with transport for animals, and an awesome tech team to keep things running smoothly. Whatever your skill set, we can use it to help us grow and flourish. And we appreciate every single one! Being totally volunteer-based with not a single paid employee, we cannot succeed on the strength of the few.
MW: How can people get involved with CVRR?
LL: Message us on Facebook, email, call…We will even accept a smoke signal or morse code. I’m joking about that last one. I don’t know morse code.