The rangers had arranged a meeting with some of the dogs from the Metro Animal Shelter. Rather routine stuff, recalls Cathy Corbin.
It’s a way to find out which animals are comfortable making friends and which need some space. They were in the garage, she said, because the weather outside was lousy.
A recent arrival caught Corbin’s attention. He was blond, wrinkled. His ears hung over his head like the flap on the back of an envelope.
Corbin knew right away: it was a Lab-Shar Pei mix, like his last dog, Smoke.
The dog approached, stopped right in front of her. Then, he twisted his ears with a little flick.
“Oh, you didn’t just do that,” she remembers saying. Smoke used to do the same thing.
The dog chooses you, Corbin likes to say. Not the opposite. It wasn’t long before she and her husband brought Flick home.
Corbin is part of Rescue Rangers, a group of dog lovers who volunteer at the Metro Animal Shelter in Casper.
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The rangers – currently Corbin, her husband Rob and fellow Casper resident Debbie Snell – are on a mission to help the dogs find their people.
To give them the best possible chance, the group even started paying for the animals to be cared for.
It’s like nothing else, Corbin said, as the dogs leave their kennels to see their new families waiting for them in the hall. The temperature in the room changes. Something in dogs also changes.
“They start the transformation right away,” she said.
Corbin stops outside the kennel room – right next to the container of foam earplugs on the wall.
She opens her trusty notebook, a written record of every dog boarded at Metro. It shows who is new, who is ready to be adopted, who has found a home.
And, just as important, that has been fixed.
Spaying and neutering keep dogs and cats healthy and safe and prevent overpopulation. This means fewer homeless animals.
It’s also their ticket to getting adopted sooner, Corbin said. Metro, like many shelters, encourages neutering and neutering in its adoption policy.
If someone wants to adopt an unsecured dog or cat, they must deposit $100 in addition to the adoption fee. Once the animal has done the procedure, the adopter gets their money back.
But not everyone can pay the adoption fees, the procedure and the deposit, even if they eventually recover part of this sum. As a result, dogs that are already settled tend to be adopted sooner, Corbin said.
A few years ago, Rescue Rangers stepped in to help those who weren’t.
In 2019, the group paid Metro 23 dogs to be repaired. In 2020, it was 55. Last year, the number reached 73.
Rangers try to spay a dog twice a week, usually Wednesdays and Thursdays.
It’s clockwork: Corbin stops on the metro in the morning and lets the staff know who she’s taking that day. A staff member gets the dog out and Corbin drops the dog off at the vet. Her husband, Rob, returned to the shelter the same afternoon.
The dogs might even have a family waiting for them when they return.
“Sometimes someone showed up while they were at the vet getting fixed,” Corbin said.
August 2005. Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane, hit New Orleans.
Best Friends, an animal sanctuary based in Kanab, Utah, dispatched a team of volunteers to the scene. They spent the next nine months recovering more than 4,000 animals displaced in the disaster, according to the group’s website.
Their efforts have been widely covered in the news – broadcast, online, in print, etc. And Corbin was watching.
Startled by what she saw, Corbin and a friend went to visit the Best Friend campus in Utah. They were hooked.
“We were like two kids in a candy store,” she said.
An idea germinated on the way home. Corbin can’t remember who said it first – her or her friend. Really, it didn’t matter. They were of the same opinion.
“Wouldn’t that be fun?” To save dogs like they do?
In the beginning, rangers were mostly drivers.
Metro just had more dogs back then, Corbin said. Some of them were lined up in kennels.
To help, Rescue Rangers transported subway dogs to other shelters in Wyoming and surrounding states.
The delivery service could be logistically difficult – and expensive. Rescue Rangers refocused its efforts on neutering and neutering a few years ago.
The group sells goods at local craft fairs and farmers’ markets to help pay for procedures.
Rangers had a table at the Super Flea Market at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds in early March. The Corbins sat there amid heaps of blankets, potholders, pouches of baked potatoes, place mats and dog coats – Cathy’s own creations.
It was abnormally slow that day. Six inches of snow had fallen the previous night and it was 19 degrees outside. By 1 p.m. — four hours into their seven-hour shift — they had only made enough money to pay for one procedure, Corbin said.
No matter. They would come back tomorrow.
The best way to help shelter animals is to adopt one. But know what you’re getting yourself into, Corbin says.
It means giving dogs some grace.
Shelters are there to save lives. They give animals a warm place to sleep and food to eat while they wait for a more permanent home.
But the dogs don’t know why they are there.
All they know is that there are a dozen other nervous animals around them. And foreigners come to visit. And it’s loud – kennels are prone to what Corbin calls “barking frenzies.” Once a dog has something to say, others want to join in. They can’t help it, that’s just what dogs do.
It’s a stressful environment, to put it another way. Not to mention the origin of dogs. Perhaps they were wandering, abandoned or abandoned.
In short, dogs are not quite themselves when they are in shelters. It’s important to meet them where they are, Corbin said. They will warm up over time.
“It’s like when you start a new job,” she says. ” You know nothing. You kind of avoid everyone, so you don’t look stupid.
One dog, Max, was painfully shy at first. He was always facing his kennel wall when Corbin walked by, she said. Now they are friends.
Dogs continue to bloom even after returning home. It took Flick three and a half years to completely come out of his shell. Even now Corbin is aware of his limitations – she always checks up on him around strangers to make sure he’s okay.
Sunday is dog walking day.
Around 10 a.m., ranger Debbie Snell walks with Ally, a mild-mannered Labrador retriever and whippet mix. It’s windy weather – brisk but hot in the sun.
For dogs, whose strongest sense is smell, a walk is like a good book. Time spent outdoors helps keep your mind sharp.
Ruger, the gentle giant, comes next. He’s a mix of Siberian Husky and German Shepherd, but he’s as fluffy as the big Pyranees.
Ruger wasn’t sure about Rob Corbin at first.
“When I first took him out, he wouldn’t let me touch him,” he said. Not that you can tell – Ruger was looking forward to having pets that day.
Not all dogs are as sweet as Ally and Ruger, of course. Some of them came out of the subway leaping like charged springs. Kyson, a tiny black and white pit bull terrier who loves to give kisses, is about 2 years old but still hasn’t lost his puppy energy.
Metro is welcoming more volunteers, the shelter said in a statement to the Star-Tribune. He’s working on a new program to make it easier for people to sign up for specific positions at specific times.
At this time, anyone interested in volunteering with Metro can contact the City of Casper’s Human Resources Division at (307) 235-8344.
The metro is open on weekdays from noon to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The shelter is currently understaffed, so hours are limited.
“The Shelter has 14 budgeted positions to date, several have been recently budgeted. Currently, our actual headcount is 7,” Metro said in the release. a few Animal Protection Officers We invite anyone who enjoys working and caring for animals to consider applying to join our team.
Ruger was adopted earlier this week.
Rangers aren’t usually there to say goodbye to their friends. But they have gift bags prepared as parting gifts: a tennis ball, shampoo, leash and collar.
The group asks Metro staff to take photos of the dogs and their new families. This way the Rescue Rangers don’t miss these moments and can share them on Facebook.
The looks on their faces say it all: they have found their people.