My name is Geralyn Hansen, and even though I live in Illinois, I enjoy volunteering for PawsCo Spay and Neuter clinic in Antonito, Colorado. I was asked by my stepdaughter, Kristin Des Marais, PawsCo’s CEO, to help out. Of course, she didn’t have to ask twice.
I travel to Colorado quite a bit so this opportunity was great for me. I had never been to Antonito, only warned that this was an area where a clinic was desperately needed. A team of volunteers and veterinarians worked closely together to make this possible. The area outside the clinic was overwhelming.
I volunteered to ride along for a day and see for myself the devastation of animals simply running freely, and the way of life for the people of Antonito. I grew up in suburbia–a close-knit community where your neighbors walk their dogs, take them for a swim at the park, or dress them in their favorite costume for the July 4th parade.
But what I saw was a lack of care and concern for the animals. Several dogs chained up, dogs dodging traffic, colonies of cats living under abandoned vehicles. We came across an abandoned home that was destroyed by a fire. Two dogs and a cat were taking shelter there. One in particular was a black lab we eventually named “Smokey.” He wondered over to me with a severe limp in his front leg. I immediately gave him food and water. His big brown eyes were still filled with love in spite of his condition and hunger.
We placed him in a crate and brought him back to the clinic where he received care. We traveled back to Denver with him and placed him in foster care where he still remains. It was hard not to judge when you see first-hand how these people and animals live. I am hoping they can someday understand that we are there to help, and shed some light on a chronic problem that is so devastating.
This was a life changing and unforgettable experience for me.