Nina Roedeler found her calling thanks to a hurricane.
In late 2012, hundreds of animals were lost or displaced after Hurricane Sandy hit the New York metro region – either from flooded shelters or being 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, eventually bringing it back to health and a new permanent home.
“I love dogs, because they know how to forgive and they don’t hold grudges,” Roedeler says.
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 few options left. For about 20 to 30 dogs a month, Roedeler holds adoption events and coordinates the trip around the New York area from foster pet keepers to forever families.
Roedeler says she and the adoption team will support new owners with advice and answering any questions they may have, but would-be owners first need to show they’re ready to provide a new dog with 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.”
That job means she needs to rack up major miles on the rough roads around the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region, and do so with enough space to keep her dog passengers comfortable and calm. After starting out at Friends with Four Paws with a 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan, Roedeler upgraded to a 2018 Volkswagen Atlas – what Roedeler calls her “mobile storage unit for the rescue and my mobile office.”1
After nearly five years and 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.”