December 15, 2005
In the weeks after Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast, hundreds of thousands of Americans expressed their sympathy toward the hurricanes' animal victims by making a contribution to The HSUS or other national organizations. It was an unprecedented outpouring of human kindness toward animals. The HSUS, in turn, has been committed to spending those donations entrusted to us in ways that benefit the animals in Louisiana and Mississippi—as well as benefit their caregivers and the animal care and control professionals who dedicate their lives to building a more humane world along the Gulf Coast.
To date, The HSUS has spent—or has committed to spend—more than $20 million on disaster relief services since those storms hit. By committed, we mean that the money has either been spent, set aside for a Katrina-related project in the near future, or been budgeted for bills not yet submitted to The HSUS.
"The HSUS responded immediately with an army of people who helped establish two massive shelters in the wake of Katrina's devastation along the Gulf Coast," says Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "We are still on the ground with rescue activities, and we are still spending tremendous resources on reunions. But it is important to understand that we are going to be involved in this effort for years—restoring and enhancing the capacities of shelters and setting up spay and neuter operations that will address some of the fundamental problems of animal care along the Gulf Coast. We are grateful to the people who have offered their financial support. It gives us this staying power."
Here is what The HSUS has spent or pledged so far:
$8 million committed to direct Katrina expenses. The expenses to rescue and shelter an estimated 10,000 animals include bills for:
- Animal transportation—to move rescued pets to sites across the country;
- Rental space for our emergency sheltering operations in Louisiana and Mississippi;
- Staff and equipment for an emergency shelter at the Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson, Louisiana
- Travel expenses for nearly 1,500 volunteers and professionals in the Gulf;
- Animal rescue vehicles and trailers that housed dispatch and communications centers;
- Equipment such as generators, computers, phones, cages, and many other supplies;
- Veterinary fees for more than 1,000 animals;
- Food for the hundreds of volunteers and professionals on site;
- Staff and equipment for an emergency shelter in Arkansas after Katrina animals were found there.
$1 million for ongoing field projects in Louisiana and Mississippi. This includes funds to:
- Manage a high-volume trapping program in Louisiana and Mississippi;
- Support rescue operations to deal with homeless animals.
$5 million committed to a Katrina reconstruction fund. This includes funds to:
- Help rebuild shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centers damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina;
- Assist the Louisiana SPCA (LA SPCA) with its reconstruction. We have already provided nearly $1 million to equip LA SPCA's temporary facility in Algiers;
- Help rebuild the Humane Society of Southern Mississippi's facilities. We have committed an initial $500,000 to this reconstruction project;
- Conduct assessments to determine what other local agencies need reconstruction support.
$2 million provided or committed to agencies that have helped rescue, shelter or reunite Katrina animals. This figure includes funds to:
- Reimburse local humane societies, animal control agencies, and rescue groups that have accepted Katrina animals and have worked to reunite them with their guardians;
- Reimburse groups that did their own rescue and sheltering work during the 45-day period after Katrina hit.
$1.5 million committed to reunion efforts. The includes funds to:
- Staff and equip The HSUS Reunion Center, whose workers have personally assisted with or confirmed more than 1,300 reunions, bringing the total estimated number of reunions to more than 2,270.
- Cover the transportation fees to reunite people with their pets.
$1 million committed to spay and neuter programs in communities impacted by Katrina. The includes funds to:
- Address the high proportion of animals in the Gulf who are unsterilized;
- Work with the Louisiana SPCA and set up an aggressive, low-cost spay and neuter program.
$500,000 spent on disasters that have hit since Katrina. This includes expenses related to our responses:
- In Texas and Louisiana after Hurricane Rita hit.
- In Florida and Mexico after Hurricane Wilma hit.
- In Pakistan after the country was ravaged by an earthquake.
$1.5 million committed to grow HSUS staff. This includes funds to:
- Expand staff and its capacity to deal with ongoing Katrina responses;
Develop a bigger and stronger Disaster Services section, so we can respond in an even more meaningful way to future disasters, cruelty cases, puppy mills, and other hands-on crisis situations.