HSN Blog

HSN Update: A Message from our CEO Sarah Baeckler

October 14, 2022

Dear friends of HSN,

Just a few highlights of the most insane 17 days of my career thus far!

After the storm hit I looked around and saw a desperate need for someone to step in and step up for the animals in shelters around SWFL. I’m beyond proud to say that we have done just that. We have flown and driven over 500 animals to safety so far.

Our team has spent countless hours processing, vetting, and readying as many animals as we can get to prepare for transport. The stories of both heartbreak and triumph throughout will last for years. We’ve pulled animals from Orange County Animal Services, Collier County Domestic Animal Services, Gulf Coast Humane Society, Humane Society of Sarasota County, Highlands County Animal Services, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services, Clewiston Animal Services, Osceola County Animal Services, Caloosa Humane Society and Veterinary Clinic, and Polk County Animal Control. And we’ve sent animals to 19 partners around the north and midwest.

We’ve worked with 3 different jet services (and I am now an expert at jet loading – putting that on my resume!) and countless national partners making this all work, more than I can possibly list. I would like to say a special thank you to our neighbors at Naples Airport and Naples Aviation who made sure every transport by plane went smoothly.

Time and time again I’ve gotten the feedback that these partners are blown away by our team – how professional and seamless it’s all been. I am beaming with pride over our accomplishments thus far. While we have individual team members with extensive emergency deployment experience, as an organization we have never taken on something of this scale, and all while living at ground zero. And a shout-out to our volunteers who have been right alongside us, sometimes called in last minute, to help us get this work done.

We’ve earned live and recorded spots on CNN, The Weather Channel, Fox News (link unfortunately not available), NPR, The Today Show and Headline News – and all of that is JUST the national coverage! Countless local TV spots and articles in Naples Daily News and News-Press, plus mentions in stories all over the country in places we’ve sent animals to. Do a Google news search for “humane society naples” and your mind will be blown!

We also received a grant from Miranda Lambert and her MuttNation Foundation, a resource that will be an excellent relationship moving forward. In addition, Collier Community Foundation, VCA Charities, Banfield Foundation and Greater Good have all awarded HSN grants to help with hurricane relief.

Some of my top priorities in the coming weeks will be continuing to help, looking at the incoming influx of strays and how to help that population, and trying to scale up Operation Rescue to help keep the possibility of reuniting for so many of these impacted families. We’re also working nonstop to send back out the thousands of pounds of food and supplies being donated. People are in desperate need and so grateful – we’re sending the Paws Around Town bus all over the place.

On a personal note, I’ve been moved to tears many times a day with the stories we’re hearing and living. People coming to the shelter to surrender animals with every item they could save in their cars; an elderly man in tears asking us to euthanize his senior pup the day after the hurricane (our vet team saved and reunited them the next day); a kitten found blowing around on a golf course during the storm; staff members who lost cars and homes. That’s just a tiny hint of it all. I have newfound gratitude for what I have, and profound respect for those who have lost so much.

We are going to keep doing all this good work, and we are proud and grateful for the well-deserved recognition HSN is getting. There’s so much more to talk about but I’ll leave it there for now.

Thanks to all those who have supported us and pitched in. I hope everyone and your families are safe and warm.

Thank you,

Sarah Baeckler
Chief Executive Officer

P.S. Donations towards our hurricane relief efforts can be made at hsnaples.org. Thank you for your support!

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