Tuesday, October 14, 2008

my visit with Carrol Crocker

Last weekend I took a drive 3 1/2 hours north of me to Rainsville, Alabama to meet a remarkable woman that I'd been hearing about for weeks. I'd gotten emails, read blogs, and seen Best Friends Animal Sanctuary's article on her. Still, none of that really prepared me for the incredible woman I met.Carrol Crocker is intelligent, witty, and determined. Even more amazing, she is content, and not bitter. She intends to prove that she was slandered, but she will save her babies first.

Her history, though you have probably already heard it before: Carrol lives on the property that belonged to her family. As a child, she climbed the big pecan tree that is now charred and dead, and would often have to call for her grandfather to get her down.
The home was 187 years old and had nice porches, though no electricity on them. Last November her house burned to the ground.
It might have been saved but for the fire department taking 20 minutes to make a 5 minute drive to her home. She lost 18 of her beloved animals - handicapped dogs, old and blind dogs, and all her cats who were inside the house. It brought tears to my eyes when she told me she felt sure that the dogs went to their beds when they didn't know what else to do, and died there. One fireman, completely outfitted, wanted to go in and save the rest of the animals that Carrol was unable to get out, but was told no by his superior.

Without setting foot on her property, those in charge ruled it an electrical fire that started on her porch. She was told, "You know how the wiring is in these old houses." Carrol quickly set the record straight. First, she had spent $8000 to get the wiring completely redone just two years earlier, and second, there was NO electricity on the porch. After her insistence on a real investigation, it was determined that the cause of the fire was arson from something being thrown on her porch or in the big pecan tree that touched it. It is an "ongoing" investigation though they have no leads on the arsonist. They will release no information about it either.

Why would someone burn down Carrol's house? She thinks it is because she has stood her ground about her dogs.
"Her dogs" are not dogs that Carrol went out and adopted, or hoarded (come on, you know we all wondered that). They are dogs that were dumped on her by residents of Rainsville and city workers. Strays and unwanted dogs that had nowhere else to go wound up at Carrol's.
There is no animal control or humane society in Rainsville, though it appears to be quite a well-to-do town.

Carrol never refused a dog in need, and built spacious kennels and dog houses for them. She put in wading pools
and gave them toys to play with. She fed them, loved on them and took them to the vet. Her dogs were never neglected. Just the day before I showed up, she took Mico to be groomed.

Of 101 dogs she wound up with, almost every one of the females has been spayed (some puppies have not yet), and males are never let in with unspayed females. Some puppies have been born at Carrol's
but their mama was pregnant when she got there.

Carrol is one of the most responsible rescuers I have ever met. She keeps the kennels clean (poop patrol takes her 2 1/2 hours each morning!) and has lots of shady plants to keep the dogs cool.
Some dogs are allowed to share her living space,
and all are given loving attention.

She would have been content to let them all live out their lives with her, but neighbors complainedand a judge ruled that she had to give up all but 3 of her dogs. Why did they complain? Who know? Maybe because she told one of them not to shoot squirrels on her property. (Yes, really. She said he stood in his yard, firing into her woods.)

Were their complaints justified? I don't think so. Granted I only spent one afternoon at Carrol's but as I sat on a bench with her and watched the sun go down I couldn't believe how incredibly peaceful it was there.

Sure, the dogs barked when I visited each of them but when we moved back to the garage they all quieted down. I even remarked to Carrol that it was quieter there with 70+ dogs than it is at my house with my seven! And the neighbor's homes are not close in proximity to her. Carrol has 5 acres, not a small city lot. Maybe it was the smell? No there again. No smell. No flies. No mosquitoes either. (I meant to ask her what type of plants she has that repels mosquitos.)

Whatever the reason, Carrol has been ordered to find homes for her dogs or they will be euthanized (probably shot). She is appealing the case, not because she thinks she will win, but to buy time to save her babies. There have been a lot of wonderful people concerned about Carrol and her dogs, and some will be going to new homes.
But many still need to go. Needless to say, Carrol wants them to go to loving homes. She even said that this is a good thing because they will get the homes that they deserve now. She truly only cares about her babies.

There has been a lot of discussion on how we can help Carrol. Believe me, she doesn't want anything for herself. She just wants the dogs to go to good homes. Really. That is what she told me, same as she has told everyone else who asked. She is fairly content in her one room in the garage and what she wants to do after the dogs are placed is to build a loft apartment over the garage. No big fancy house, just a small garage apartment. This is the Carrol Crocker I met. This is why she has touched so many lives of people who have not met her.

It has been suggested that she be submitted for Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I printed out a copy of the application and took it with me last Saturday. She smiled when I handed it to her, no doubt touched that we would want her to win, but I honestly don't think she will fill it out. She is self sufficient and would not ask for anyone's help for herself.
Once again, Carrol only wants to find good homes for her dogs.

If you want to help her, please look at the dogs that are still waiting for a home and try to find at least one a new adopter.

Adoptable Dogs

Adoption application can be found here Application as Forgotten Paws Pet Rescue is screening potential adopters for Carrol.

If you can offer transport help please go to Transport Help

Rescue groups please contact: Lori at satoashley@comcast.net (954) 772-2130

To read more about Carrol see Best Friends and Hope 4 Dogs

I am truly humbled by my visit with Carrol. You can't imagine the strength this woman exudes. And how down to earth and cordial she is. As we sat talking, I felt as if we had been friends for years. As dusk came, I knew I had to get on the road home, but I really didn't want to leave.It was so peaceful there and her company was so soothing, I felt the love all around me. We should all be so lucky as those animals that have found her.

Emily Cherry Goff