Thanks to a hurricane, Nina Roedeler found her calling.
In late 2012, hundreds of animals were lost or displaced after Hurricane Sandy hit the New York metro region. The pets came from flooded shelters or were left behind when their owners had to evacuate. Roedeler, a New York resident, volunteered to foster one of the dogs left traumatized by the storm. She tended the dog back to health and eventually helped it find a new permanent home.
That experience led Roedeler to her role as rescue coordinator for Friends with Four Paws, an Oklahoma-based nonprofit that finds new families for dogs with limited options. Roedeler holds adoption events for about 20 to 30 dogs a month, and coordinates trips around the New York area from foster pet keepers to forever families.
Roedeler says she and the adoption team support new owners with advice and answer questions, but would-be owners first need to show they’re ready to provide one essential need: love.
“I’m looking for a match for the dog and human alike,” Roedeler says. “We try to match up the needs of the dog with the adopters to ensure a great start into their new life together. But as every dog is different and situations are different, there needs to be chemistry.”
Roedeler racks up major miles on the rough roads around the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region, and needs enough vehicle space to keep her dog passengers comfortable and calm. Roedeler started out at Friends with Four Paws with a 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan, but upgraded to a 2018 Volkswagen Atlas; she calls it her “mobile storage unit for the rescue and my mobile office.”1
Nearly five years later and with hundreds of dogs in good new homes, Roedeler says it’s hard for her to imagine a better way to bring people and dogs together.
“I have a blessed life. It’s my job to make families happy and to make dogs happy,” she says. “Uniting a dog with a family is almost like playing Santa Claus.”