Saturday, September 17, 2005

The dish on Katrina (NO) animal rescue--please read the previous's important...

Before you read this post, read the previous post.

...but this one is important, too...

here is a straight-from-the-horse's-mouth email about the animal rescue operations in New Orleans that we have been so terribly worried about:

"Subject: phone conversation with La. Asst. State vet

cross posted from pet rescue forum 9/17

11565. UPDATE re Littlefield, N.O. animal rescues
by Lavajunkie, 9/17/05 8:17 ET
posting as a favor: IMPORTANT UPDATE re Asst. State Veterinarian / N.O. animal rescues I want everybody to know of a conversation I had late this afternoon (Friday, 9/16.) with Dr. Martha Littlefield, the Assistant State Veterinarian. She is the front-man in the rescue operations, working closely with the VMAT teams, La-SPCA and HUSA, and even the Mississippi state vet.

This conversation ended a day of many TC's and a few emails with state / government / private sector personnel, including several deans at the La School of Vet Med, the Area Emergency Coordinator (a vet (I think)from Utah volunteering his time,) the logistics coordinator for the US Dept of Agriculture, a gentleman at HUSA that works directly under Wayne Pacelle(who is back in La today,) and the Commissioner (top dog) of the Louisiana Dept of Agriculture and Forestry, the department under which the state vet operates.

To make a long (almost 30 minute conversation) story short, I found her to be of pleasant demeanor, courteous, and informative, as I did the others I spoke with today. She was exceptionally generous with her time. She has been receiving calls on her cell phone (it was published on the web, and yes I have it and her email, but no, I'm not distributing them) 24 hours a day. Many if not most of these calls are nasty, with people cursing at her. Such behavior is unbecoming the caller, and is NOT warranted.

I felt MUCH better about the rescue efforts after talking with her. And, I have complete confidence in what she told me.


1. Hay and cat and dog food, along with water buckets, are now being dropped from helicopters into Plaquemines Parish. Much of the Parish is still not accessible by vehicle.

2. They are on the verge of opening two additional shelters; sites have been chosen, and now it is just the logistics of the paperwork, getting electricity turned on, etc. If I had to guess, I would think just a few days until there is substantially increased capacity for animal holding.

She explained to me the actions that were taken BEFORE Katrina hit, and gaveme a history of the rescue operations, and also of the opening of the various shelters currently open.

She (along with the Commissioner) assured me that they have NEVER instituted or called for a 30 day quarantine. What they did do, was council with other vets / health personnel who jointly decided that in order to protect the public health from possible epidemics ("possible" because no one knows what bio-hazards most of these animals have been exposed to, and what diseases they may have acquired in their recent struggle - including those for which fleas and ticks, etc., are vectors) the animals should be held for 15 days, and if transported out of state, should be held for another 15 days, to allow time for owners to claim their pets. So the rumored 30 day quarantine is only a rumor, the 30 day period is to allow pets to be re-united with their owners. A good priority, I think.

Rescue personnel (not shelter / staging area workers) must be creden tialed" by the Dept of Agriculture and Forestry. They want rescuers to have real animal experience to help ensure the safety of the people. She said (not an exact quote, but as close as I can recall) "If you've ever been on the other side of a dog fight, you know it's somewhere you don't want to be." (My note: Ever seen a pit bull in full aggression? They become single-minded, oblivious to commands and physical pain (such as hitting them with a stick to try to distract them.) They will only become distracted long enough to get rid of the irritation - as by biting their owner. I have seen one go through a plate-glass window to attack its litter-mate. And I'm not
talking about a dog trained / bed / raised for fighting - I'm talking about a pet,
a sweet, loving pet who was raised with and loves cats, rabbits, you name it. It can be, in two words, terrifying / dangerous.) Dr. Littlefield went on to comment that ANY breed of dog can be dangerous; their most recent case of a dog killing a child was by a smaller breed (she told me, but I don't remember the breed.) She herself is permanently scarred - from a bite from a small dog.

I implored her to write all that she told me, so the story would be complete, and from the source. She needs to confirm protocol (damn the red tape) but I am hopeful she will do so and distribute, which I offered to do for her. She and her colleagues are NOT the enemy, I am convinced. People working with / under her have even saved mice!

The Dept of Ag is taking a terrible financial toll. History has proven that they will get little or no financial reimbursement from the Feds. I would like to suggest that after things calm down, we set up a fund specifically for that department. if each of the thousands of us contributed just a few dollars, we could substantially alleviate their financial troubles. And maybe consider doing the same for other departments and organizations"

*** Permission to cross post granted ***


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