Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Updates on Hurricane Katrina Animal Rescue Efforts

UPDATE FROM Petfinder.com: Nobody loves the Internet and gossip more than me, but we all know the combination can be very troubling. I have become aware of some troubling rumors circulating about the care of the animals at emergency facilities in the New Orleans area.

Most of the national animal welfare organizations - everyone from Best Friends out West to the ASPCA out East - are collaborating on the disaster relief effort. The rescue teams that are heroically saving pets are a mish-mosh of agencies as are the people running the temporary shelters. It is heartening to see staff and volunteers from groups as diverse as The HSUS, The Animal Rescue League of Boston, KittyCo Rescue and Last Chance Ranch all working side by side triaging pets, scooping poop and making food drops.

There are several troubling rumors right now that are harming the morale of the animal welfare community. I care about this because our own Petfinder people are down there. Mike and Joan, known to you as the Petfinder press team, are taking photos of pets as I type this (they also happen to be my parents). It is important for you to know that the people who are there are committed and caring.

So here are some things to keep in mind: we've been assured that no animals are being euthanized for space. In fact, they are working to move hundreds of animals a day into other shelter facilities throughout the state and country to ensure they have enough space to accept more. Also, no owned pet will knowingly be adopted without giving their family ample time to locate them.

If temporary sheltering and emergency response were a perfect science, we wouldn't call these events disasters. But they are disasters. Please know that there are major forces at work to reunite these pets with their owners. Together we will rebuild. Together -- in partnership with every single one of you reading this. -Betsy

Fantastic article on what the situation is like for the rescuers...from St. Petersburg Times...at the end are some resources if you want to help.

Rescuers search city for marooned animals

"Maretti, a Chico, Calif., firefighter, climbs inside through a back window and pushes a small brown dog through the back door's metal railings and into Elmslie's waiting hands.

But he's got an 80-pound problem. A listless black retriever mix lies inside, too weak to move or even bark.

The pair tries to use a crowbar and a 2-by-4 to force open the metal security door. When both fail, they summon other rescuers and form a human chain to lift the hulking dog through a window and over the putrid floodwaters into the boat.

Finally, they succeed.

One saved. Perhaps tens of thousands more to go."

...The water rescuers move swiftly and listen for barks, meows and almost inaudible whimpers. Many rescuers are old hands, having responded to disasters all over the world, including the tsunami in Thailand, floods in India and oil spills in Spain and South Africa.

But this rescue is different.

'This is one of the worst disasters I've ever seen, primarily because of the huge devastation,' said Anand Ramanathan, a veterinarian who heads IFAW's disaster relief programs."

...'We take every one we can get,' he said. 'If we think that there's any chance at all that this animal is going to make it, we take it.'

Craig will sit for hours on the median and wait for teams to bring back their catches. He sends the rescuers out with a warning about the murky water.

'If you slip and fall, I'll have to kill you where you fall,' he said smiling. 'You kids have fun. Check in with dad every so often.'"

...Laura Maloney, executive director for the Louisiana Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the group takes in 500 animals a day. At this pace, she expects to have shuffled at least 9,000 animals through the shelter by the end of this week.

'We're racing against the clock,' she said. This is the biggest disaster we've ever seen in our history for animals.'

More examinations occur at the Expo Center. Animals are treated for injuries and put in stalls. Volunteers create an identification file, which contains each pet's care instructions and, if possible, the address at which they were rescued.

Soon, Maloney said, volunteers will post photos of each animal on a Web site, www.petfinder.com with the hope of reuniting pets and owners. So far, about 100 animals have been reunited.'"

...The rescuers compare dog bites; rub their lesions with Betadine and scrub their hands incessantly with bottles of Purell hand sanitizer.

They also talk about the ones they left behind.

'We were full; we couldn't bring them back,' said Sam Hall, a Largo developer who joined the effort late last week. 'A lot of them aren't going to make it through the night.' The crews vowed to return, but bad news doused their plans.

The temporary veterinary triage center in Jefferson Parish was not accepting animals. Dozens of animals sent there earlier in the day were turned away.

There were no more empty crates for the animals left behind.

Craig, the operation leader, worries that the dogs already in the crates will overheat. He orders the crews to pack up and head to Gonzales.

'I want to get these dogs there alive," he said. "I'm not wasting everybody's good work.'

But when they reached the Expo Center, there was more disappointment. Officials there turned them away, too. It was already overcrowded.

The team eventually found refuge for the animals at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Every animal, even the injured, made it there alive.

But the day had taken its toll on the water rescuers.

'I'm disappointed,' said Shirley Minshew, and IFAW disaster on-site coordinator from Macon, Ga. 'The animals haven't done anything wrong, and it's not fair for them to pay the price. We're risking our lives being in that nasty water to save these animals because we believe in what we're doing.'

With the shelter closed to incoming animals, the rescuers spent Sunday loading up animals for shipment to Houston."

  • ASPCA | Read the Rescue Diary
  • LSU School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Humane Society of the United States
  • Noah's Wish
  • Best Friends (yeah! they have set up a shelter in St. Bernhard's Parish where the animal population was in dire need! thank you!)
  • IFAW
  • American Humane Association
    -->Check out your organization here: Charity Navigator


      © Blogger template 'BrickedWall' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

    Jump to TOP