Sharon Ganzhorn, a third-shift Radiologic Technologist at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, couldn't have possibly predicted that when she created an Amazon Wish List for a local animal shelter in need that her requests would not only be met, but that the community would also rally so strong that her goal would be surpassed in just a week's time.

Thanks to Ganzhorn and the generosity of people around the region and country, Ganzhorn and a team of volunteers, including those from Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, delivered more than $2,500 worth of pet supplies to the Essex County Animal Shelter on Sept. 23.Animal Shelter Donation_opt (1)

Why? Because of a stray dog who made its way to the home of Diane Smith, an RN at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, after she came off of a weekend of working third-shifts.

Briefly, Smith thought about keeping the pup, but ultimately listened to her daughter's advice and brought him to the Essex County Animal Shelter in Tappahannock. But even after dropping the dog off, Smith couldn't stop thinking about him –or talking about him.

After sharing the story of the stray with Ganzhorn—her friend, coworker and self-proclaimed animal lover —Ganzhorn was immediately moved to action. Ganzhorn visited the shelter herself and saw an immense need.

The shelter, which opened in July 2008, has taken in hundreds of stray animals in its six years. While the reduced rate of animals euthanized at the shelter is a great success story, Mark Courts, the Acting Manager of the Essex County Animal Shelter, said the shelter couldn't always give the animals everything he wished he could.

Given its no-kill mission, each animal it takes in comes at a cost –a cost to feed, clean, find a home, and keep or get healthy. That's where Ganzhorn saw a way to help.

Ganzhorn created an Amazon Wish List on Sept. 15 and shared it with her "Sharon's Critters Auction Team" (SCAT) Facebook group members to spread the word. She pleaded there for support to the rural, no-kill shelter.

The response from the group –and across the country –was immediate and overwhelming.

"I didn't even tell my husband I had done this it because I never expected this kind of response," Ganzhorn said.

But he had to ask what was going on when he showed up at their house, greeted by nearly 60 packages on the front door. The donations came from all over the country —literally spanning from coast to coast.

"It's really exciting because this is a little, rural country shelter and the very first package came from California," Ganzhorn said. "People just took my word about a really good shelter and the donations just started coming in."

Since that first Facebook post on Sept. 15, more than $2,500 worth of donations have made their way to Ganzhorn's front porch. Products for the shelter range from $2 to $150, all of which are already being used by the animals there.

Ganzhorn, Smith, and close to 20 volunteers and Riverside Tappahannock Hospital employees delivered many of the donations to the shelter Sept. 23, including bag after bag of food, bedding, toys and treats.

"These donations mean that the dogs who are over-shy or abused can enjoy the same comforts of any other animal who lives in a loving home," Courts said. "They will have the same comforts of the truly spoiled pets. It will also help the dogs who come in who are lost and will help them adjust."

Ganzhorn maintains, despite the impact her efforts to rally the community have played at the shelter, that all she did was help fill a need. And it's something that she will continue to help with.

The Essex County Animal Shelter, located at located at 540 Airport Road in Tappahannock, will continue to need volunteers and supplies to operate.

Ganzhorn also regularly updates her Facebook SCAT group, which in addition to the Essex County Animal Shelter also benefits groups such as the Wild Heart Ranch, Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society, and Middle Peninsula Pet Pantry.

Ganzhorn's SCAT Facebook group can be found at

To learn more about the Essex Country Animal Shelter, call 804.443.0726 or visit

Published: October 7, 2014