Paws up for the Rescue Warriors


Michelle Lin

At the Lake City Animal Hospital, these students surround the shelter dog, Pickles, as they take turns petting him. Pickles steals the hearts of many as he jumps around giving kisses to his new friends. Interacting and socializing with the dogs at the shelter brings smiles and joy to both the dogs and the students.

Michelle Lin, Photographer

With their main goal of relieving stray populations in the South, members of the Rescue Warriors try to help spread awareness and make a difference by volunteering and raising money for the animal community.  When Taylor Catlin came to NC as a freshman in the fall of 2016, she held the first official meeting of NC’s Rescue Warriors, a club dedicated to helping stray animals in local animal shelters find homes. Since the first few meetings in 2016, the amount of new members has significantly increased.

“The club started with about five people who were coming every time, and just recently we had a meeting with the entire classroom full of about 25 people,” Catlin said.

Catlin, now a junior and club president, started off the first volunteer event of the year at Lake City Animal Hospital on Wednesday, August 22. At the start of the Wednesday event, Catlin instructed her club members on how to properly handle the dogs with care. With the help of the animal hospital’s staff, the students brought out about 30 different breeds of dogs, and each club member took the opportunity to hold and play with at least one pooch. The students interacted with the friendly canines by walking, petting, and even cuddling with them as the strays, one by one, waited their turn for their daily medications.

Michelle Lin
Before bringing all the dogs out, the volunteers gather around to listen to instructions. The staff members and experienced volunteers help make sure all the students handle each animal with proper care. Specific rules such as having to carry puppies above the ground at all times and not letting dogs touch noses, helps prevent bacterial diseases to spread.

“It makes me so happy when students want to get involved and want to make a difference in the animals’ lives. I love seeing the students comforting the animals, [keeping] them calm, and socializing … them. It’s just the greatest feeling,” Rescue Warriors sponsor Christina Mayes said.

Every year, local animal control centers bring stray dogs and cats into their shelters in hopes of finding families for them.

“The best thing about this club is that I get to hold and play with all these puppies that I know are going to a safe home that will take good care of them. It’s good to know that these animals aren’t left in the streets to try and survive by themselves,” junior Natasya Hioe said.

Michelle Lin
After a long period of running and jumping with the volunteers, Strawberry, the mutt, finally settles down. One member gently carries Strawberry to the back where he takes his medications. After the dogs receives their daily dose, the canines get ready for a long night as the volunteers help transport them to another shelter up north.

Rescue Warriors not only provides community service hours for volunteering at the shelters, but it also offers an opportunity for students to gain the experience of working with animals. The club especially targets students who possess a love for animals and those who want to help the animal community. For students looking for a career in veterinary studies, Rescue Warriors works with Road Trip Home to provide opportunities for members to help with the animals’ veterinary procedures.

“We’re looking for people who really have a passion when it comes to pets. Some of our members have a career choice that involves pets, like a veterinarian or a pet groomer, and others just really like them,” Catlin said.

The Rescue Warriors club offers help to local shelters, including Mostly Mutts and Road Trips Home. Last year, Rescue Warriors successfully orchestrated a towel and blanket drive where they donated over 100 towels to pet shelters, an activity  they plan to do again this year. Catlin and her team plan to find more ways to fundraise and help raise money for these shelters.

Michelle Lin
One of the volunteers helps feed the dogs while making sure all the animals remain strong and healthy. Road Trip Home sends these dogs to the north where the strict neutering laws make the adoption process quicker.

Multiple speakers, such as service dog owners and environmentalists, have come to NC to talk about career choice and the proper care of animals.

With the increase of new members joining the club, the Rescue Warriors look forward to bringing in even more speakers to talk to the members and spread their message. The club meets after school every other Wednesday in room 601 to promote new ideas; their next meeting occurs Wednesday, September 5.