|Animal rescuers return from Gulf with homeless pets
Thursday, September 22, 2005By Steve Kowalski
As she rode through Gulf Coast states with a team of animal rescue volunteers, Clarkston resident Liz Sherman noticed desperate Hurricane Katrina victims holding up signs.
The letters on poster boards didn’t need to be written in bold, black ink to get her attention.
New, responsible owners were needed for their pets. “Free, to a good home” is what their signs said.
“The owner surrendered (the dog) to our little organization,” Sherman said, recalling one man in particular. “(The dog’s name) was Bear. (His owner) didn’t know us, but he was relieved the dog was going to be cared for. By chance we stopped there, but it wasn’t by chance. It was a blessing we stopped there.”
The caravan of 10 from the Michigan Animal Rescue League spent a few days at a temporary animal shelter outside New Orleans and a few more at another in Mobile, Ala., Sherman said. Sadly, she said, some of the animals they encountered in between the two shelters were lying on the roadside, already dead.
“Driving by Gulfport was pretty astounding,” Sherman said.
The caravan, which left Sept. 9, took along six tons of cat and dog food, water and animal medical supplies, Sherman said. Never mind that volunteers would use the vehicles to sleep in, not a comfortable hotel.
“It wasn’t even something we put a lot of thought into,” said Sherman, who works at Veterinary Care Specialists in Milford. “It’s just an immediate response.”
The caravan drove straight to a temporary shelter – a makeshift expo center – in Gonzalez, La., about 15 minutes outside New Orleans, according to Sherman. She said about 4,000 rescued animals, including horses, snakes, dogs, cats and rabbits, were among those that needed care.
“We slept in vehicles and spent our time caring for animals,” Sherman said. “It felt really good to get there, physically touch these animals, walk them, clean up after them, feed them. They were so excited just to be handled, so receptive, wagging their tails.”
Sherman’s caravan came from more than 1,000 miles away and others from farther still – Maine and the state of Washington.
The caravan brought back to Michigan 16 dogs and 16 cats, Sherman said. Some of the pets came from roadside meetings and some from the shelter in Mobile, Ala., which was too small to house all the rescued animals, she said.
The pets, upon coming to Michigan, received vaccinations and health assessments at the Oakland Veterinary Referral Services in Bloomfield Township before being released to adoption groups.
“We’re not in a hurry. We just want to get the right home for the right animal,” said Marie Skladd, president of the Michigan Animal Adoption Network.
Anyone interested in adopting or becoming a foster caretaker may call the Michigan Animal Adoption Network at (248) 545-5055 or Michigan Animal Rescue League at (248) 335-9290. People may also donate food and other supplies 24 hours a day at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services, 1400 Telegraph, south of Orchard Lake Road.