As rescue workers and the military gain access to more and more of the devastated areas of Mississippi and Louisiana, more and more pets are being rescued and placed in shelters. Aside from the financial and practical resources required to rescue and rehome so many pets, one of the biggest difficulties will be in identifying the owners of the rescued pets. There are thousands of frantic pet owners combing rescue shelters desperately trying to find their pets.
The extent of the help and support being offered by members of the public nationally is exemplified by an offer received by a farmer who offered the use of a cargo plane to fly animals out of the disaster area when needed and the use of his farm in Nebraska to house animals (PetFinder.org). The easiest, and often the best, way to help is to contribute funds to any of the disaster relief funds which have been set up to help animals. Canned food and blankets may seem like a good donation, but the expense of shipping these kinds of items to their destination often outweighs their real value. Another great way to help is to offer practical assistance to local shelters that you know who are assisting in the relief effort.
The American Humane Association is working with a host of animal welfare organizations to find, rescue, and care for the hundreds of animals still stranded or unaccounted for after Hurricane Katrina. Many American Humane volunteers are caring for pets at a temporary animal shelter in Lafayette. Other American Humane volunteers are in New Orleans with boats, gear, and specialized skills to rescue animals in flooded areas. The ASPCA’s First team is based at the Louisiana SPCA Staging Area (Gonzales, LA) and is currently in the City of New Orleans with a convoy from the LA SPCA, the HSUS, Code 3 and the Animal Rescue League of Boston, with vehicles and boats. The second team is en-route to Gonzales in a mobile veterinary unit.
Other independent shelters, many funded through donations alone, are contributing everything they can to the relief efforts. The North Shore Animal League of America has set its mobile unit up as a triage unit in the staging area in Mississippi for the first hundreds of animals being rescued out of the area. Best Friends Animal Society and its sister sanctuary, St. Francis Animal Sanctuary, are setting up emergency housing for the animals rescued from metro New Orleans. Capital Animal Care, a Washington DC-based non-profit animal welfare organization is taking their state-of-the art vet mobile clinic to Best Friends Animal Society’s animal rescue operation base in Tylertown, Mississippi. Over 600 animals are being cared for at LSU’s Parker Coliseum, as they have received animals evacuated from five veterinary clinics, two animal shelters and from people who are located at associated Red Cross shelters. They are still accepting even more animals.