Help Me Help My Friend--Jennifer Roberts

I'm Julia McClung in Durham, NC and the gorgeous boy in the photo is Fletcher. 

I'm asking for help. Not for Fletcher, but for Fletcher's long-time caretaker, and one of the most important people in his life, Jennifer Roberts. Jennifer is a private person and deeply proud but she really needs some help--so I asked her if I could reach out on her behalf.  She reluctantly agreed. 

Jennifer has been walking and taking care of Fletcher for almost ten years and Vince (my other crazy pittie) since 2012. She left a law career thirteen years ago to pursue her passion for animals (dogs, cats, horses, you name it!) and has been taking care of Triangle pets since then. 

As a full-time pet-sitter, Jennifer's income is linked to her clients' schedules. When we're busy at offices and on vacations and holidays, Jen is busy keeping our fur babies walked, fed, entertained, and loved. I can count on one hand the number of vacations or holidays she's taken since I've known her.  She works seven days a week, nights, and holidays all because she loves her job and the animals she serves. 

When COVID-19 hit, her work dwindled to just a few clients.  Her finances got tight, but she's always managed savings well and was riding it out. As a bulk of her  annual income comes from summer vacations  (which have now been largely cancelled) she knew 2020 was going to be rough from start to finish--but she would have made it work. A month ago, something happened that--without your help--will change all that.

On May 25, one of her clients hired a goat-scaping  company (yep, that's a thing) to do brush cleanup on their property. When taking the client's dog out of the house for a walk, the dog got spooked by the goats. Jennifer tried to move the dog away from the goats and the dog bit her arm and lunged into the electric goat fencing to get at the goats. He got tangled in the fencing and started to panic.

Adrenaline took over and, not realizing she'd already been bitten, Jennifer did what any dog-lover, professional, or compassionate person would have done and tried to free the dog. In the process, she was bitten again on the leg. The owner finally got the power cut to the fence and the dog was freed--unharmed. 

Now, when I say "bitten", I'm certain you have a mental image. I am not posting a picture because it is too shocking. But whatever your mental image is--it's way, way off. Think "mauled by a bear" or "shark attack" and you'll be closer to understanding what this was. 

Jennifer spent two days in the hospital. A month later, and she has still not been cleared for work and was just recently cleared to drive.  On June 23, she was informed that serious infection has set in, requiring immediate surgery and skin grafts. 

"That's awful," you're saying, "but that's what homeowner's insurance is for, right?" Agreed. Except the client's homeowners insurance isn't covering it because they say she "should have dropped the leash".  The client has refused to offer any assistance and has gone so far as to tell Jennifer to stop talking about it because she's damaging their friendship. [Personal and unflattering commentary on how this person defines "friendship" redacted by author.]

Jennifer is a strong, single woman and a small-business owner.  She is independent (middle-aged like me) and proud and this has not only broken her finances, it's breaking her spirit. Her savings are depleted. Her bills are due and there is no estimate on when she will be able to return to work. She has nothing to sell off and no other options to cash in. Before COVID happened, she had been driving a borrowed car because hers died--she was just about to purchase a replacement. Fortunately, she still has access to the loaner.

She is endlessly optimistic that she will be able to return to work any day--as she has been since two days after the incident. Most of her clients have no idea how serious this all is. But, I have seen the damage to her leg and am afraid her optimism is unrealistic. So, I am asking for some short-term assistance to get her through July so she can follow her doctor's orders and let her leg really heal after the surgery. 

The money raised will go directly to keeping her in her house, her utilities on, groceries in the fridge, and--let's be honest--getting a few treats for her own fur babies because they're frankly feeling a little sad too. I have no doubt she'll be back to working 365 days a year as soon as this heals up. 

Jennifer is genuinely connected to the pets she cares for. I've seen her swell with pride and joy over a client's new puppy and I've seen her sob when one of our beloved pets crosses. I know there are many, many people who need help in our communities recently. But, if you can share any amount with my dear friend Jennifer, Fletcher, Vince and I would be eternally grateful. <3
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Organizer and beneficiary

Julia McClung
Durham, NC
Jennifer Roberts

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