Just like you, I have been haunted by the video footage and still pictures of animals that were stranded on rooftops, car tops and just about anything that was above water amid the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Rescuers tell me that as they rowed through the streets of New Orleans and climbed through the collapsed homes in Alabama and Mississippi, they could hear the mournful howls of confused, lonely dogs and the fragile cries of cats coming from rubble. You and I are not alone as we pray for the animals.
"We at the LSU (Louisiana State University) School of Veterinary Medicine, like everyone else in the country, are overwhelmed by what we have seen on the news in the wake of Hurricane Katrina,"commented Michael Groves, dean of the school at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. This amazing school, its teaching veterinarians, students of veterinary medicine, and volunteers from near and far stepped up to the plate in a huge way and are causing tails to wag again.
As of Sept. 10, more than 100 animals had been reunited with their owners, and by the time this column is published, so many more owner/animal connections will have taken place. According to Ginger Guttner, spokesperson for the school, more than 1,000 animals that have owners are being housed at the Parker Coliseum on the LSU campus. Smaller dogs, cats and other animals are housed in cages around the perimeter of the large facility. Larger dogs are in the center of the arena. These include many pets that were boarded in veterinary clinics and shelters destroyed or damaged by the hurricane. Those facilities include the Metairie Small Animal Hospital, St. Tammany Animal Shelter, Southern Animal Foundation, The Cat Practice in Metairie and the VCA Airline Animal Hospital. Pets owned by people who were in Red Cross-associated evacuations including the Causeway and I-10 bus staging area have also been housed there.
The Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, La., is sheltering stray companion animals and may include pets that escaped from homes or were otherwise lost. There are some pets belonging to Superdome evacuees and many horses. Photographs are being taken of every animal in these facilities as well as many of the pets now
residing at other shelters and in foster homes; these photos are or will be posted at www.petfinder.com/disaster/. When I asked how long the animals would be housed at these facilities, Guttner said that had not yet been determined. She also said that the most common treatments to date have been for heat stress and dehydration. Of course, time is going by fast, and the longer the wait for these stranded and lost pets, the worse their condition and the more care they need.
Tax-deductible donations are urgently requested in conjunction with the efforts of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University. Go to www.vetmed.lsu.edu// for more information. Checks should be made payable to the WJE Foundation (Dr. Walter J. Ernst Jr. Veterinary Memorial Foundation, Federal ID 72-1507753) and mailed to 8550 United Plaza Boulevard, Suite 1001, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. The fax number is 225-408-4422.
Other organizations that I have profiled recently also need donations. These include the non-profit Noah's Wish, a charitable 501(c)(3), P.O. Box 997, Placerville, CA 95667, and the nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society, 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, UT 84741.
If you have lost a pet or had to leave a pet behind in the hurricane area, or if you know someone else who is in that position, go to disaster.petfinder.com/emergency/. Call Best Friends at 435-644-3965, extension 4455, and include your name and where you can be located. Include a description of the pet — species, breed and special markings as well as the pet's name and address where it was left or last seen. Also contact Noah's Wish at 530-622-9313. Its pager number is 877-575-0128
Keep in mind that all of these groups and others need to find temporary foster homes for the thousands of lost and abandoned pets that are now in shelters. Many of these pets are being moved to shelters in other cities and states. If you can provide a temporary home or want to adopt a pet whose owners cannot be found, please contact the organizations listed above, or visit www.petfinder.com where 200,000 pets are listed.
Bless the animals, every one of them. —Uncle Matty
Dog trainer Matthew "Uncle Matty" Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series "WOOF! It's a Dog's Life!" Visit him at www.unclematty.com. Send your questions to dearuncle.gazette@ unclematty.com or mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619. © Creators Syndicate Inc.