|State shelters furry victimsMich. volunteers plan more rescues of Katrina pets
September 14, 2005
BY KIM NORTH SHINE
J. KYLE KEENER/DFP
Volunteer Larry Stone, 44, of Clarkston, who made the trip south to rescue animals, calms a frightened pup just after they arrived from their 24-hour drive from the gulf coast.
After 24 straight hours of a dark, bumpy ride from Alabama to Michigan, four white-paneled trucks opened their doors Tuesday as the state welcomed the latest batch of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
Inside the trucks at an Oakland County veterinary hospital were 32 panting, barking, mewing survivors — 16 cats and 16 dogs — that had the good fortune of meeting Detroit-area volunteer animal rescuers who went south to help a different kind of storm victim.
The four-legged evacuees are the first of what could grow to be hundreds of animal orphans to resettle in Michigan. Humane Society officials say as many as 50,000 pets may have been displaced by Katrina. In Louisiana alone, at least 3,000 cats and dogs and several hundred birds and reptiles have been recovered. Only 300 to 400 have been reunited with owners.
In addition to the 32 that arrived in Michigan on Tuesday, as many as 154 more animals could be coming today in other evacuations.
With some luck, they may be reunited with owners whose pets may be their only surviving possessions.
How to help
To help, go to www.mi-aan.org or call 248-335-9290 or 248-545-5055.
# The Michigan Humane Society also is helping stranded animals. To donate, go to www.michiganhumane.org or call 866-648-6263.
# The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Veterinary Medical Assistance Team offers animal doctors. Go to www.avma.org .
# The Humane Society of the United States and the Friends of Amigo Foundation are selling Cause Collars to raise funds. Go to https://gateway.hsus.org/hsusdev.
# Michigan State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital needs medical supplies. To help, call 517-353-5420.
# Call any of the agencies above to find out about adoptions.
Kim North Shine
There were nine pups plucked from a New Orleans rooftop after 13 days. Their mother is in critical condition in Louisiana. There’s Bear, a dog whose owners couldn’t take him to Texas, and there’s a friendly, declawed, neutered cat whose sobbing owner handed her over to someone who could better care for her.
The travel- and storm-weary dogs and cats that rolled in with the all-volunteer Michigan Animal Adoption Network and the Michigan Animal Rescue League will move into foster homes, starting today.
But their first stop after arriving about 1 p.m. Tuesday was the Oakland Veterinary Referral Services in Bloomfield Hills, where, at no cost, veterinarians and assistants filled exam rooms and surgery tables with the ownerless animals, some sickly, but most spunky.
Some animals had skin diseases. Others had red crusty cuts. Most of them wagged their tails as they were being checked by a dozen or more staffers who were working for free. Some animals were frightened and quiet.
“They’ve been through so much, just like the people,” volunteer Liz Sherman said while holding one of the most nervous new arrivals. In a separate rescue mission, 136 dogs are scheduled to land today or Thursday in a cargo plane in Grand Rapids. It is believed to be the first airlift of animal evacuees by an animal welfare organization, said Nancy Gunnigle of the Michigan Humane Society. Her organization is working with the Humane Society of Kent County to put the dogs in homes and shelters in western Michigan. An anonymous donor gave $35,000 for the relocation.
A second donor is needed to finance a similar airlift to southeastern Michigan, Gunnigle said.
A much smaller arrival also is expected today at the Michigan Humane Society’s Westland Shelter.
The dogs will be held for 30 days as required by the State of Louisiana in case owners are searching for them. The dogs’ photos are posted on www.petfinder.com.
In the meantime, they’ll stay in foster homes.
Sherman was part of a six-person team that spent four days in Louisiana and Alabama rescuing the 32 animals that arrived Tuesday in Oakland County in donated trucks filled with donated supplies and volunteers who took time off from their full-time jobs.
They were not authorized to do rescue work in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. They worked at a makeshift shelter in Gonzales, La., the area’s major repository for homeless animals. On the day health inspectors threatened to close the shelter down, the Michigan group joined other volunteers, nervously cleaning and organizing. The Michigan team also dropped off 6 tons of food and other supplies in Mississippi and later moved on to Animal Rescue Foundation, based in Mobile, Ala., whose shelter was named Arfanage.
It was in the Mobile shelter that they met up with their future passengers, who had nowhere to stay.
More help from Michigan is on the way.
Michigan State University’s veterinary teaching hospital is sending a team of students and teachers on Monday.
Friday, another team from the Michigan Animal Adoption Network and the Animal Rescue League will depart for a long weekend and bring back at least 50 animals, said network president Marie Skladd.
Cathy Theisen, a veterinarian from Ortonville who practices at the Oxford Veterinary Hospital, returned Tuesday from her tour of duty with a federal animal disaster project called Veterinary Medical Assistance Team.
She brought with her a Labrador retriever mix found in a neighborhood in Plaquemines Parish, La., that was nothing but “piles of debris, no trees, no telephone poles, homes in jumbles and all covered in oil.”
“Out of this nightmarish thing came these two little dogs that were so happy to see humans.”
The other dog was taken home by a fellow worker.
Theisen plans to take a team back down to bring back 100 to 150 homeless animals.
“It’s such an emotional thing to see,” she said.
Rescuers from every organization expect there to be a crush of requests to adopt pets that survived the storm.
“It’s already happening,” said Amy Popp, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Humane Society. “What we hope is that if people have room in their heart and homes for a Hurricane Katrina pet that they can find room for one of our current residents.”
Contact KIM NORTH SHINE at 313-223-4557 or email@example.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.