|32 animal evacuees need new homesWeb-posted September 14, 2005
By CAROL HOPKINS
BLOOMFIELD HILLS – The technician placed a stethoscope on the evacuee’s chest. “Let’s see how you’re doing,” she said. After a few seconds, the technician laughed a little. “I couldn’t hear his heartbeat because he was purring so loudly,” she said.
The evacuee – a young, scrawny striped cat – arrived in Oakland County on Tuesday, one of 16 cats and 16 dogs rescued from the Gulf Coast by six volunteers working with the Ferndale-based Michigan Animal Adoption Network and the Pontiac-based Michigan Animal Rescue League.
“It was the most overwhelming experience we’ve ever had,” said rescuer Pam Porteous, manager of the Michigan Animal Care Network.
“The devastation … what the people have suffered,” she said, struggling for words. “It’s hard to describe.”
The volunteers left Friday and caravaned in several vehicles.
They first delivered animal crates in Jackson, Miss. They moved on and worked with other animal rescuers at the Expo Center in Gonzalez, La. ÊÊÊ
ÊWhen they heard about a Mobile, Ala.-based shelter that was at capacity with animals rescued from New Orleans, they headed there to bring as many animals as they could back to Michigan.
All of the pets were surrendered by their families, rescuers said.
Clinic busy On Tuesday, after a 24-hour ride from Alabama, the animals were checked out by the staff at Bloomfield Hills-based Oakland Veterinary Referral Services.
At midafternoon, the “incoming” were all around the clinic. Wideeyed cats sat in carriers. Panting dogs tugged on leashes.
Each animal, it seemed, came with a story.
A rust-colored bull mastiff mix named Bear was given to the rescuers by his family at a gas station in Gulfport, Miss.
“They seemed grateful and relieved,” said rescuer Elizabeth Sherman, 35, a veterinary technician with Veterinary Care Specialists in Milford. “It was a blessing in disguise that we headed where we did.”
In a discharge room, a group of 4-month-old puppies lounged or stood in their separate cages.
“These guys have been through the wringer,” said Betsy Caskey, an emergency assistant.
The pups had lived with their mother on a roof in New Orleans for 13 days. She is still in the hospital in Alabama.
The health checks and vaccines were all donated, explained Jim Thompson, practice manager with the clinic. “This is our way of helping out (the people who were in the hurricane) by helping with their pets.”
All of the animals will be observed for about a week and then either fostered or adopted out, rescuers said.
More volunteers are going back to the Gulf Coast this week. For now, everybody – humans and animals – is resting.
Sherman sounded pleased about the animals now here.
“They’ve been through so much trauma but done so well. “They’re such little winners in our eyes.”