ASPCA Volunteer Power Couple Impacts the Lives of Animals in Need One Deployment at a Time

April 23, 2024


At the ASPCA, when a dire situation arises where animals may be left in harm’s way, whether that be a natural disaster, a cruelty situation or anything in between, we are committed to bringing vulnerable animals to safety and getting them the care they need. Typically, our National Field Response team (NFR), comprised of both ASPCA staff and volunteers, is first on the ground, ready to step in when called. Our volunteer responders also frequently deploy to our recovery facilities or temporary shelters to assist in the continued care of rescued animals. Last year alone we rescued and assisted over 5,500 animals from a total of 13 deployments.

In honor of Volunteer and Responder Appreciation Week this week, we wanted to spotlight two of our incredible volunteer responders who help make our work possible. Their dedication to animal welfare and the care and compassion they show animals in our care is second to none, and we couldn’t be more grateful for them.

Gregg and Jen N. started their journey of volunteering while living in Austin, Texas. Having seen our commercials on T.V., the couple felt moved and wanted to help, so they reached out to their local shelter, Texas Humane Heroes. They began by feeding, cleaning and playing with the animals, and after a few years even sat on the Board of Directors.

Two years ago, after relocating to Scottsdale, Arizona, Gregg and Jen knew they wanted to continue to find ways to help animals in need. That’s when they researched ways to help the ASPCA directly.

“After researching the ASPCA National Field Response Responder Program, it seemed like it could be the perfect platform for the two of us to get involved,” explains Gregg. “We set time on our schedules to go through all the required training, took each of the online recap tests and worked as quickly as we could to put ourselves in a position to deploy. The online training was helpful. Once we deployed, the hands-on training and insights shared were, and continue to be, the best in class! The process was logical, efficient and beneficial.”

Gregg went on his first deployment in October of 2022 and Jen in April of 2023. Since then, Gregg has deployed an additional six times and Jen an additional three, with the majority of both their deployments being to the ASPCA Cruelty Recovery Center (CRC) in Columbus, Ohio.

Creating a Bond with Animals

During Gregg’s first deployment, he was helping with daily care in Pahrump, Nevada, where we had helped rescue nearly 300 dogs, primarily Caucasian Shepherds, from alleged cruelty. It was there that a certain dog grabbed his attention.

When found, the dogs in Nevada (shown above) appeared neglected, with many suffering from untreated medical issues.

“The dogs had been so neglected by their previous owners,” says Gregg. “They were initially dirty, certainly nervous and exceptionally hungry. One of the first dogs I was able to interact with was a massive male that I called Big Bear.”

“Because many of the dogs were so fearful, we sometimes would feed them their meals in lunch bags so they could pick them up, take them to where they were most comfortable in their kennels, open the bags and eat. I could tell that Big Bear was incredibly hungry, but he always refused to take his meal right away. He would first push his big 125-pound body up against me, look up directly into my eyes and let me know he wanted some petting, some love and to be told what a great puppy he was. Then and only then, would Big Bear pick up his meal and take it to his bed. I’ll never forget that amazing pup!”

It was during one of Jen’s deployments to the CRC that she also connected with a dog that had recently been rescued, alongside nearly 150 other animals, from alleged cruelty in Texas.

Many of the dogs seized from the property in Texas (pictured above) were contained in a shed-like structure with no light or air circulation, an internal temperature of over 110 degrees and elevated levels of ammonia. 

At the start of her time at the CRC, Jen was informed that this particular dog would only eat food from her bed, as she was too scared to move from that one spot in her kennel. But, after a couple of days of Jen showing the pup some love, affection and care, she became so comfortable that she would come to the front of her kennel to get meals or take a treat. She also began to push her body against the kennel so she could easily receive pets.

“I will always remember how far that pup came in such a short window,” says Jen.

Connecting with animals and showing them love, maybe even for the first time, is what Gregg and Jen find most rewarding about volunteering for our NFR team.

“As difficult as these deployments can be – knowing how many of these animals have been let down – it is the greatest thing ever to know and see firsthand that you can make an immediate, meaningful, positive and long-lasting impact on each and every one of them,” Gregg tells us. “It is also incredibly powerful to witness the commitment, care, concern, empathy and love each and every volunteer and ASPCA staff member shows toward the animals. Volunteers and staff members are of all different ages, backgrounds and personalities, but their commitment to the animals is unwavering and profoundly motivational.”

Just a few weeks ago, Jen and Gregg returned home after volunteering at our temporary shelter being used to care for 120 mistreated dogs and puppies rescued from a breeding operation in Florida.

Many of the dogs seized from the property in Florida (pictured above) were found to be underweight and have untreated medical conditions.

As always, the couple found their time deployed to be “emotional, hard work, full of team support, rewarding and all around incredible.” Both Jen and Gregg helped with daily care, worked on their handling skills and, now being seasoned volunteers, were even able to train a few of the new volunteer responders. Gregg also had the opportunity to work with and support our transport team who took the dogs to and from the veterinarian.

“Most importantly, the pups were simply amazing,” says Gregg. “They looked great, and you could see and hear their appreciation for all that was being done to make their lives so much better.”

Dogs from the Florida rescue at our temporary shelter.

Seeing how cruelly some animals have been treated firsthand can be challenging, but Gregg and Jen find that the good outweighs the bad.

“When deployed, you’re ‘in the game’ so you see, feel and hear what these poor pups have gone through,” Gregg explains. “It can be difficult to compartmentalize the historical negative and focus on the current and future positive. Jen and I have found that talking about the negative helps, donating can help, but investing time and energy by helping the animals is by far the best way to balance their negative past with their positive current and future.”

Becoming an ASPCA NFR Volunteer

We could not be more grateful for volunteers like Gregg and Jen. Their commitment to helping these animals and their compassion never goes unnoticed – by us or the animals!


Having helped rescue nearly 300 dogs across four states in just 30 days last month, we are currently in urgent need of more volunteer responders like Jen and Gregg. If you have ever thought about signing up, NOW is the perfect time!

“If you have ever had an ASPCA commercial touch your heart, if you hear of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, animal hoarding or neglect cases and truly wonder and care about what is happening to those animals, or if you’re looking to have a favorable impact on a group of animals that are so forgiving for their past neglect and so quick to show their appreciation for your effort … DO IT! Prepare, train and join the team. While seldom easy, your only regret might be that you didn’t or weren’t able to join sooner,” says Gregg.

Please sign up today! And who knows, maybe you’ll bump into Gregg and Jen while there!