NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT) -- Many Middle Tennessee residents travel for work, but only a few hardy souls genuinely deserve the title “Road Warrior.”
In the continuing series Giving Till it Hurts, WMOT News introduces you to a mid-state man who is on the road more than he’s home. What’s more, his job exposes him daily to the worst human beings can do to the animals who depend on them.
Troy Snell is a Field Responder for the Humane Society of the United States. He handles animal rescues all over the south. Snell spends two to three weeks on the road every month responding to cases like the recent raid on a suspected Sevier County dog-fighting ring
He also responds to natural disasters, which can mean even more time away from home.
“People ask me, like, ‘Oh, you travel so much,’ and ‘I couldn’t do that,’ but I like to travel because of what I’m going to go do… I know that I’m going to go help animals. That’s what drives me,” Snell said.
It’s a passion Snell learned from his father, a dog breeder of St. Bernards. Snell worked animal control in California for several years before moving to Tennessee to do field work for the Society. Sad to say Tennessee was also the site of one of his most memorable rescues.
“I think what stood out the most was the puppies,” he recalled of that incident. “There were puppies on the property that had these hug collars. My understanding is the purpose for that is to start building muscle, but these puppies were literally like two months old…three months old.”
The things Snell sees on a daily basis can be traumatic. He says every member of his team copes with the stress in a different way. Snell admits to being something of a hermit on those rare occasions when he does get back home. He says withdrawing for a time is his way of dealing with what he sees on the job.
But it turns out that Troy Snell isn’t completely alone with his thoughts when he’s playing the hermit at home. He lives with a rescue dog named Meatball, a survivor of yet another dog fighting operation.
Snell had to wait two years to get custody of the pit bull as the dog’s previous owner’s criminal case worked its way through the courts. Snell says he’s helping Meatball deal with issues resulting from years of neglect. Meatball is also helping Troy Snell.
“When you go out and you’re in the field and you see all this horrible stuff. So then when I come home it’s like ‘I’m home and here’s my dog.’ …and like every day I get joy from him. He’s literally 70 pounds of head and muscle, but he’s a lap dog. We sit on the couch together. He’s in my face,” Snell explained.
Giving till it hurts may be routine for Troy Snell and his animal rescue team, but it isn’t a sacrifice without reward.
“It’s just a feeling that you get when you can go out and you can help the ones that don’t have a voice for themselves,” he concluded.
Snell notes that the Humane Society is always looking for volunteers and donations. A lot or a little, every bit helps. Perhaps most importantly, he says don’t look away when you see abuse or neglect.
“This is going on anywhere and everywhere. Whether it’s dog fighting, cock-fighting, hoarding, puppy mills. Whatever you can think of, it’s out there. So if you see something, report it,” he said.
You can call those reports into local law enforcement. Contact the Humane Society if you’d like to learn more about volunteer opportunities.