Love, (on behalf of canines everywhere) Author Unknown
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Volunteers bring back 138 pets displaced by Katrina
"Animal Taxi" rescues dogs, cats, even a rabbit all up for adoption.
By Samantha Worthington
When Lori Shey walked through a Louisiana shelter housing pets displaced by Hurricane Katrina, she was overwhelmed by the sheer number of cats and dogs crammed into kennels. The animals faced two futures: be rescued by someone such as Shey or be killed by a shelter employee needing to make room for more animals.
Fortunately, the 138 furry refugees that Shey, a Realtor who lives in Driggs, Idaho, and five other volunteers loaded into the "Katrina Homeless Animal Taxi" an RV, a truck and horse trailer will find new homes. The animals that escaped the hurricanes and kill shelters arrived Saturday morning at the Teton Valley Humane Society in Driggs and are available for adoption today.
The 87 dogs, 50 cats and one rabbit are available through the humane society and the Animal Adoption Center in Jackson. Michelle De Lange, humane society director, said in an interview Tuesday about 70 of the dogs and many of the cats already have homes.
"Right now we are holding them in quarantine," De Lange said Tuesday. "The vet is going to do a physical on every single animal."
The animals already have been vetted and have required health certificates showing they've had vaccinations such as rabies and parvovirus shots. They've also been tested for heartworm, a disease common throughout the world but more prevalent in Louisiana than in Wyoming.
The motorized Noah's Ark returned Saturday after a three-day drive.
"I am emotionally and physically exhausted," said Shey, who started the effort to rescue the pets. "The hard work is still going on."
The idea to drive to Louisiana arose after Shey decided she wanted to save pets displaced from the hurricane. She later asked De Lange if she was interested in helping.
"I decided I was going to go down in a horse trailer and get as many animals as I could," Shey said.
From there, the group started to draw other animal lovers.
Along with De Lange and Shey, De Lange's father, Bob, a retired animal control officer, and Chip Carter, a graphic artist, also went along. Danielle Flint, another humane society employee, and Sam Kitchen, a stay-at-home mother who volunteers at St. John's Living Center, joined them.
They set off to Louisiana on Sept. 26 and drove for two days with vehicles full of donations, which they gave to the Salvation Army.
"People were very, very grateful when we dropped stuff off at the Salvation Army," De Lange said.
Shey said people were "floored" that they would drive all the way from Idaho to help.
None of the volunteers saw the devastation Hurricane Katrina caused when it pummeled the Gulf Coast in August as the animal shelters were 100 to 150 miles away from the damage. Rebecca "Cupcake" Tinnes, director of the adoption center, said last week it is estimated 50,000 pets were displaced by the hurricane.
The volunteers picked up the animals at several shelters in Louisiana.
"The shelters were filled to the maximum," Shey said. "There were just kennels up and down the hallways."
Some of the animals at the shelters weathered Hurricane Katrina while others had been there since before the storm and were about to be euthanized to provide room for displaced pets that hadn't been deemed homeless yet.
"It was very, very sad," Shey said. "This was a kill shelter."
Shey said one of the shelters they went to euthanizes 300 to 400 every week. The shelter continuously kills animals to make room for ones that may still have owners searching for them, she said.
One of the dogs they picked up, a basset hound mix, narrowly escaped death. She was on the way to be euthanized, but as the volunteers loaded up the animals a man asked if they had room for the hound and they managed to fit her in.
"The biggest thing is that every one of these dogs has a story," Shey said. "They are all affected by the hurricane."
Most of the dogs are small breeds such as poodles, dachshunds, beagles, basset hounds and Jack Russells. There are some large dogs such as a Great Pyrenees and a weimaraner. In case anyone is wondering, the lone rabbit is doing fine.
"They are all just amazing spirits," Shey said.
The Katrina Homeless Animal Taxi was slow to come home because it had to stop about every three hours to let all the animals out. Shey said people passing by were in awe of the chaotic scene of dogs and cats of all shapes and sizes running around.
The humane society and adoption center seek donations to help pay for the trip and cover costs to feed the animals.
"We're still buying medications and obviously food," Shey said.
People also can bring dog and cat food and litter to either center. Both places also need volunteers to help walk, clean and socialize the pets awaiting homes.
To make a donation or inquire about how to foster or adopt an animal, call the humane society at (208) 354-3499 or the adoption center at 739-1881. Monetary donations, addressed to KHAT, also can be sent or brought to the First Bank of the Tetons.
Lori Shey's email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, March 18, 2006
By Robert Travis ScottCapital bureau
BATON ROUGE -- Louisiana's attorney general has begun an inquiry of the Humane Society's financial activities related to the national organization's disaster assistance programs after Hurricane Katrina, the group's top official said Thursday.
Wayne Pacelle, president and executive director of the Humane Society of the United States, said the nonprofit charity has done nothing wrong and is cooperating fully. Pacelle said he did not know the intent of the inquiry but thought it might have been initiated by rumors circulating on the Internet about alleged inappropriate spending by the society.
"We don't think there's any issue," Pacelle said.
Attorney General Charles Foti is looking at fund-raising issues involving a charity that dealt with pets and reuniting pets with owners after the storms, Foti's spokeswoman Kris Wartelle said. She called it a "basic beginning of an inquiry" and declined to give more details. She said Foti has made no accusations of wrongdoing.
Donations to the Humane Society after Katrina were generous beyond expectations, Pacelle said. The group received $30 million toward relief efforts for pets and other animals after the storm seven months ago. The organization has already spent or has pledged to spend $25 million of that amount toward "recovery from Katrina and other disasters last year," and will eventually spend all the money, according to a society statement released this week.
"Only a small percentage of the money was specifically earmarked for the Katrina response, though we've spent the bulk of the money in the Gulf Coast," the statement said.
The society sent people to Pakistan and India in October to help after a major earthquake. It also assisted in Mexico and Florida after Hurricane Wilma. The estimated cost for the society's "non-Katrina disaster work" for 2005 was $500,000, the statement said.
"We're careful not to liquidate these donations in very short order," Pacelle said. The society will be dealing with the impact of Katrina for several years, and wants to use the money toward a sustained rebuilding effort, he said. Many animals victimized by the storm still need shelter and care.
The society has not used the money for staff bonuses, a "complete fabrication" that has made the rumor mill, Pacelle said.
Created in 1954, the society is based in Washington, D.C., and has regional offices around the country.
Within days after Katrina, the group provided personnel, equipment and financial support to local animal assistance and shelter groups along the Gulf Coast and participated in the direct rescue and care of more than 10,000 abandoned or lost animals. It also worked to reunite pets with owners.
The society reassigned more than 200 of its staff to respond to the crisis and coordinated and covered the field expenses for thousands of volunteers and animal-care professionals in the stricken areas.
Among the costs for Katrina, it spent $5.5 million on direct operations, $7 million in reconstruction grants to local organizations in the Gulf Coast, made $1.3 million in reimbursement grants to humane societies and rescue groups throughout the country that assisted relief efforts, and sent teams of professional trappers to the storm zones.
The group has committed $500,000 in partnership with Louisiana State University and the Dixon Correctional Institute toward an assessment for a permanent facility for animal care and sheltering. The society worked with the prison after the storm to run a temporary care center staffed by inmates.
The group worked in cooperation with the Louisiana Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to run a post-storm animal rescue center in Gonzales, and is spending $4.5 million to help get the LSPCA back on its feet.
Laura Maloney, head of the Louisiana SPCA, said her organization would be financially devastated were it not for the support of the Humane Society and the American SPCA, a national animal advocacy group not directly affiliated with the Louisiana society.
"We would have been in deep trouble if they hadn't come in with funding," said Maloney, whose local donor base was scattered by the storm.
The Louisiana SPCA, which handles animal control, sheltering and sterilization in New Orleans, saw its facilities wiped out by Katrina and lost nearly half its staff. It is operating out of a temporary warehouse in Algiers and is planning a new permanent home, Maloney said.
Maloney said she was not privy to the reasons for the attorney general inquiry. Under crisis conditions after the hurricane, the animal relief effort in many ways worked well but encountered logistical snafus and coordination problems between animal care groups and state agencies, she said. That was the extent of any problems Maloney said the Humane Society might have had with its operations in Louisiana.