“I’m a little nervous about what we’re going to see,” animal rescue worker Erin Stacks said, standing next to an SUV with “Hurricane Animal Rescue” on the side. Stacks and nine others were preparing to leave Friday morning from the Michigan Animal Rescue League in Pontiac to help the estimated thousands of animals displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Armed with food, water and antibiotics, they planned to visit temporary shelters in Terry, Miss., and Tylertown, Miss., set up by Utahbased Best Friends Animal Society. “They’re just desperate for supplies,” Stacks said. When word spread that the volunteers were heading south, donations flooded the rescue league, Veterinary Care Specialists in Milford and other drop-off points. People gave collars, leashes and Milkbones.
On Friday morning, the bed of one pickup truck held a white birdcage with a green roof. Large bags of dog and cat food were piled along an outside wall of the rescue league.
“We have probably thousands of pounds of dog food,” Stacks said.
The back of her Honda Pilot was stuffed almost to the top, leaving only a crack through which to see the road in the rear-view mirror.
Inside, there were bottles of hydrogen peroxide and control sticks for catching strays.
Vet tech Ellie Robinson wore dark purple scrubs and sunglasses over sleepy eyes. She came straight from the end of her midnight shift at Veterinary Care Specialists. Not knowing what to expect, Robinson said her excitement was tinged with fear. The volunteers, she said, aren’t undermining efforts to help Katrina’s human victims.
“I think that the animals get lost, and they get forgotten,” the Highland Township woman said.
The team was prepared to bring some critters back to Michigan.
“I imagine I’m going to have a bunch of refugees living with me,” Robinson said. She already owns one dog, two cats, birds and fi sh.
Everyone planned to begin the trip at 8:30 a.m.
Nerves frazzled when a man who was supposed to show up with a donated Ryder truck suddenly backed out. Then, a rescue league volunteer with connections to car dealerships secured 18-foot and 15-foot trucks. A caravan of the trucks, two SUVs and two full-size vans finally got on the road at about 3 p.m.
“We’re telling everybody we’re coming back Tuesday,” Stacks said, “but, knowing us, we’ll probably postpone that.”