a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Good News on Animal Rescues During Disasters

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Good News on Animal Rescues During Disasters

SUMMARY: Katrina sparks some good work

For those of us who watched in horror as pets were left behind to die during the Katrina disaster, even when it would have made as much or more sense to take the animals with the people--or who read about our fellow agility-club members and friends' exploits while putting their lives here on hold to go there to help with animal rescue-- it's good news to hear that now pets must be included in disaster rescue plans:

Article from SFGate.com

If you want to read our teammates' harrowing reports from Louisana as they worked to save pets in Katrina's aftermath, go here (reports are in reverse chronological order, so click the Archives link for Sept 2005 on the right and scroll down to the bottom there to start at the beginning). Note that I found many of them to be so disturbing that I couldn't read them in their entirety.

But, in the space of a year's distance, one of our volunteer club members just filed this report:

It has been a year this week since I traveled with friends to help with the animal rescue efforts in New Orleans. Since the day I returned I have planned this thank you letter to the many people who donated money to fund that trip.

It might have appeared that I had forgotten it, but that is not, by far, the case. I decided when I returned that a simple thank you was not enough, I wanted to give each of you some insight or profound wisdom or lesson or meaning that might grow out of that mess over time. I have waited the year and can wait no longer, the task I wanted to complete lays somewhere between impossible and impractical. To share all that has grown out of the mess of New Orleans in my head and heart now will fill a book.

What I can do, stealing from the organizations that sponsor suffering children, is give you this very special list. This list is each animal that my partners Jill Moran, Wendy Volgelgesang and I personally rescued from homes, plus one more that I just have to include.

Remember it was three weeks after the storm.

At the very first door I opened my thought was “nothing can be alive in here” then I saw two yellow eyes in the far corner that seemed to be about 4 &1/2 feet off the ground. I ran out and called to Jill “there is a REALLY BIG dog in here”.
It took us some time to find him, he was very scared. Jill used the numbers I got off a note in the kitchen to find the owner weeks after we got back to California. He was a boxer mix owner by Dorothy who was in a nursing home. Her family loved the dog and got him back. He was not that big.

A homeless man who was hiding in the abandoned city asked us to take a brindle pit bull pup he had found, we did.

A DUCK! “Should we take him?” “How the hell should I know”?
This job came with no training. The debate ended with the fact that there was no living vegetation anywhere. You helped save one duck.

Black Puppy with a long curly coat, very young under four or five months.
“What did he eat?”
This house was the worst by far we had seen: imagine a doll house rolled several times then the contents coated with something like oil that stank beyond belief. This house changed us. I had wanted to leave after noticing a parrot in a cage on a four foot stand that had drown. Again I thought “nothing could have lived in here”. When Jill insisted on checking one more time and found him under a bed I knew we had to search every inch of every house. I never again thought that we would not find them alive, even when we didn’t.

Black Chow:
This dog was hanging around outside of the address we had on the list. We had no idea if he belonged there or not. He was very aggressive and hard to catch. We decided that he would be better off left there with lots of food so we let him go. Then we decided he would be better off coming in so we had to re-catch him. Many choices were not easy, especially when it came to all the strays.

“Chocolate” a feisty Chihuahua mix and “Carmel” a little spaniel mix. We were often flagged down when we happened to see the odd human. They would tell us of a dog they just saw running or of a pet they could hear but not get to. These were often city workers. This lady was lucky enough to get into her home, but she was worried about her Aunties dogs that lived around the corner. The window was broken so the dogs were able to run in and out. They were very hard to catch dashing in and out of that damn window. All of the family members were living in shelters. The dogs were taken in but I’m not sure what happened to them.

Yellow Lab mix, this poor dog could not walk well at all and was laying in a drive- way. He was happy for the food and water. We took him with us.

A Black Shepard mix ran right up to Wendy when she got out of the car, “I’d like to get out of here, please”! Inside the house a tan Shepard mix was found in an upstairs bathroom. Wendy worked long after we got home to reunite “Solja” with his family. One of the shelter volunteers adopted the black Shepard at Wendy’s urging, they let Wendy know a few weeks ago that they still have and love her.

This very sweet orange tabby was in a house that was full of dead cats, the yard too.
I just can’t figure how he fared so well when the others didn’t.

Black Kitten about 7 months old, stray in good shape walking down the side walk complaining bitterly.

This house with no damage to it was on our list BUT it had a note saying not to go in, that the dog was fine, but the city had been re-evacuated a few days before because of hurricane Rita and the note had no date. We made the choice to break in, the little Chihuahua mix had no food or water. We left the dog with a ton of food and water, feeling sure that this part of the city would return first, as before.

Mexico Street, a second story flat without any damage, small Min Pin mix with a long coat, I have a photo of this dog and tried for weeks to contact family from numbers I got from the house, no luck.

Yellow Pit Bull, a meter maid flagged down our marked car. She could hear a dog in the house. Workmen had been throwing food into a window but she was bone thin. She was the happiest to see us of all the dogs we rescued.

“How much is that doggie in the window” Jill and I started singing at the same moment.
The address had a tiny white Pomeranian displaying herself on window sill, she might as well have been waving a white flag. She changed her mind when we broke in and was very hard to corner. As thin and weak as she was I’m surprised she could move. “Snowball” is one of the happiest stories there is, when we called her owner they did not believe us, they had already had several false calls. When Jill described the house and said “your fish are still a live “ they knew it was their girl. I was lucky enough to meet this family and see the reunion. “We will never ever leave you again”.

“Muffin”, we could hear her barking the moment we pulled up, but we could not get in.
We did more damage to that house trying to get that dog than the storm did. We finally just literally beat the wall down. The dog looked so good we almost didn’t take her…
“someone must be coming here”. Not so… The owner cried when I told him we had her… “how fat was she” I asked, “VERY” he said. Not so any more!
This dog was featured on an Animal Planet Reunion show. That TV program was the first time I saw Clarence and Betty and their son and they got to see Jill and I too.

This little dog was not afraid at all, came right up to us. Filthy and stinky but he wasn’t embarrassed at all! When we called his owners they said “We went home and got our dog last week, saw that one in our house then but never saw him before”. We don’t know how he got there but we know he got cleaned up and came home on the plane with Wendy and I. She found him a wonderful foster home and searched for his family for months. On the plane we named him “Lefty”, because he was and I am! His new family adores him and his name is now Biscuit.

Plus one more…..
We did not rescue Baby Girl but I can’t leave her out. She was in our kennel area and I was the only one that could walk her. She was just a nervous wreck, you know how Shepards can be. After we started going into the city to rescue I no longer worked in the kennel barns. I would walk Baby as late as 11:00 when we got back in, she would always be very dirty by then. I kept trying to call her owners (their number was on her cage) to tell them that she was not coping. When I went out one morning she was gone, shipped to where ever. I saved her number and Wendy kept track of her, she ended up BY CHANCE ALONE at a shelter near Wendy in the San Diego area, Wendy visited her and facilitated the reunion with the family…. like so much that we saw it was stranger than fiction.

This is where your donations went, to these animals that might have otherwise died,
you did a great thing, thank you so very much.

Please forward this to anyone that you know that donated to this effort, I do not know where many of the donations came from.


Sandy Rogers

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