A Message to Canadians
Timeline of Relief Efforts
Numbers and Kinds of Animals At Risk, Rescued and Receiving Field Care
Animal Emergency Response Network
Donation of Supplies
Volunteer Animal Rescue Workers
Adoption of Katrina Animals
Fostering of Katrina Animals
For the Moment, Think Globally, Foster and Adopt Locally
Reports of Animals Being Shot or Left Behind to Die
News Media Stories About Specific Animals
News Reports and Internet Discussion About Animals Being Euthanized
Protecting Your Own Animals in The Event of Disasters
Raise Funds for The Humane Society of Canada Katrina Relief Efforts
Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and the families of our neighbours to the south affected by Katrina. Each one of these hard hit communities, having lost so much, includes families who are missing their animals. Orphaned and injured wildlife are also at risk. We are talking about tens of thousands of dogs, cats, birds, small animals, horses, farm animals and wildlife. What we accomplish will be measured by saving one animal at a time.
In the early days of the emergency response, there had been reports that some US government officials in specific disaster zones had been preventing animal rescue efforts in the mistaken belief that this would take resources away from the relief and recovery efforts that make the evacuation of people more orderly and effective. Based on our experience, and that of others, and borne out in particular by the people most affected by the disaster, it instead had the opposite effect, as people understandably resisted leaving their special family members behind and refused to evacuate, increasing the risk to people and animals in the disaster zones.
Along with many others, The Humane Society of Canada knows that people and animals could and should and are being rescued from the disaster area, relying on the expertise and resources of human and animal rescue and relief teams working tirelessly alongside one another in search, rescue, relief and recovery operations. With everyone’s combined dedication, efforts and strength of purpose, people and their animals are not the forgotten victims of Katrina.
The following phases represent the overall Katrina animal rescue and relief efforts to date:
Disaster preparedness with news of approaching hurricane
Evacuation before and after hurricane makes landfall
Needs assessment after hurricane hits including estimates of number and types of animals affected, widespread and localized nature of impacts, topographical review of areas of high ground and flooded areas, numbers and nature of illness and injuries inflicted on animals and relationship with human disaster relief efforts
Initial and ongoing effective collection, transhipment, secure storage and delivery of supplies and trained rescue personnel and volunteers
Rescue & shelter large numbers and wide range of animals and establishing effective lines of communication to effectively coordinate disaster centre, field, shelter, veterinary and relocation and adoption efforts with animal rescue and field operations
Veterinary triage examination and treatment for specific injuries ranging from heat exposure, dehydration, lack of food, wounds, secondary infections to psychological trauma
Providing emergency food, water and veterinary care for stray animals through field feeding stations until other rescue attempts can be made
Identify and reunite as many lost animals as possible with their families
Adoption of strays and those animals not reunited with their families
Recovery and rebuilding efforts for local animal shelters, veterinary clinics, stables and other animal facilities
Aftermath assessment of disaster preparedness and emergency response
Incorporation of animal rescue and relief strategies into local disaster and emergency preparedness plans and practice drills
Preventing and reducing to whatever degree practical the frequency and intensity of natural disasters through more effective community and internationally based environmental policy, planning, implementation and monitoring strategies
Dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and other small animals, horses, farm animals and wildlife are all at risk. Younger and older animals, and those requiring special care and medication are in the greatest danger. Animals trapped in low lying areas are still in immediate danger from contaminated flood waters, and those on higher ground or those animals that could climb had a greater chance of survival, however, exposure to heat and lack of clean water and food will have taken its toll on some animals. Any bird or any wild animal that can swim as a part of his/her natural behaviour and those animals which have a varied natural diet would have an increased chance of survival.
The nature of the rescue and relief operations in any disaster zone means that there are always conflicting reports about the numbers and types of animals affected and those which have been rescued and are receiving veterinary care; those which have been reunited with their families; or stray animals receiving care through field stations (some animals are so frightened that they cannot be captured immediately because they will not allow rescue teams to approach them).
By reviewing the best available information from a number of sources to date, in our judgement, the best estimate for the numbers of animals rescued, reunited with their families and stray animals given field care numbers over six thousand animals including dogs, cats, horses, small animals and wildlife. There are still tens of thousands of animals at risk.
There are a number of local temporary shelters that have been established and these include the Lamar-Dixon Centre in Gonzales, Louisiana near New Orleans (which is currently providing shelter for over 1,300 animals of every kind), the Louisiana State University Agriculture Centre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Blackham Coliseum at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, Louisiana. Other smaller temporary shelters have been established in Jackson and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Animal shelters from nearby areas are also working by special arrangement to temporarily transfer and care for rescued animals.
We are working in partnership with the American Humane Association which is coordinating with other local and national animal rescue groups. For more information about the Animal Emergency Response Network click on this link http://disaster.petfinder.com/emergency/
Animal food, bottled water, veterinary supplies, temporary shelters, animal carriers, fencing, pet id supplies, communications equipment, survival gear, batteries, generators, compressors, vehicles, boats, specialized animal rescue equipment, spare parts, gasoline and diesel fuel, tools, building materials, logistical support for animal rescue workers, digital cameras, office supplies and computer equipment are all in demand. We have received many messages from people across Canada and from other countries that have small, individual donations or collections of these kinds of items, and we are grateful for their kindness and their generosity of spirit. However, at present it is difficult to logistically collect, transport and distribute these items in small quantities and we are working to resolve this issue. Please watch our website for further updates in this regard.
We are asking for donations to purchase these supplies locally and to transport them to the affected areas.
Coordinating efforts to receive and ship large quantities of these animals with corporations and government officials is ongoing.
We have received many messages from concerned people in Canada and other countries who want to become volunteer animal rescue workers and to travel and work in the disaster zones. From experience, we know that this is very demanding and dangerous work. The person needs to be in excellent health and be properly vaccinated against a number of diseases such as hepatitis and tetanus, and preferably, also vaccinated against rabies. Because resources of all kinds are in short supply in and around the disaster zones, people need to work with a recognized and authorized animal rescue group and must be entirely self supporting and provide their own funds, accommodation, transportation, food, clothing and health care needs and insurance. Because of the nature of this emergency, people with previous disaster relief experience and animal care personnel are being selected first.
Local, state and federal officials including the US Department of Homeland Security and FEMA are those which determine access for rescue workers to operate in the disaster zones. There is no guarantee that if people travel on their own to these areas that they will be allowed in to help, unless their efforts are coordinated by authorized animal protection organizations working in the field. Simply showing up with a truckload full of people and supplies will not contribute to the rescue efforts.
At least until mid to late October animals are not being placed for adoption in order to give as many animals as possible a chance to be reunited with their families. We are certain you would agree that people and their animals, who have already lost so much, deserve the chance to become a family once again. Right now, the only animals that have been adopted are those which have been voluntarily given up by their owners or those stray animals which have been clearly identified as having no families.
The Louisiana SPCA reports that a number of well meaning organizations have rescued many animals but unfortunately did not notify local groups. They are asking that any such organizations that have taken Katrina animal victims to please register the animals with http://disaster.petfinder.org/emergency/ in order to give families a chance to be reunited with their pets. By emphasizing reuniting before adoption, this will give families a chance to get back together again. Some shelters from outside Louisiana which have accepted Katrina animal victims will now be giving their families until 31st December 2005 to reunite with their pets. One such organization is the Los Angeles SPCA which is giving shelter to 200 animals.
Rescue, recovery and relief efforts are still underway. Local groups are trying to keep these animals within 161 km (100 miles) of the disaster area to increase the likelihood that rescued animals can be reunited with their families. Therefore, wherever possible, foster homes are located nearby or animals are being clearly identified before being moved to specially designated foster shelters and locations in nearby areas not hit by Katrina.
A Louisiana law requiring that animals be held for 30 days, has been temporarily set aside to allow for the orderly transfer of animals rescued from Katrina, to be moved to 25 animal shelters in neighbouring states. All animals are be digitally photographed and microchipped to assist in reuniting lost pets with their families.
Until you can adopt or foster one of the animals from Katrina, please remember the animals in your local humane society, SPCA, shelter or rescue groups that need permanent loving homes or need to be fostered. If you need help, please contact us for more details for animals that need help nearest you.
The news media, internet discussion groups and other sources have been responsible for many reports of animals being shot by government officials or being left behind to die. This has generated many duplicate emails and phone calls from well meaning and concerned individuals and groups which have meant that people calling to report missing animals, ask for advice or support Katrina relief efforts have been pushed aside. For this reason, we have quickly tracked down each one of these rumours in order to allay the concerns of people who want to make certain that animals are not the forgotten victims of Katrina. Rather than calling us or sending emails, please check out our website: humanesociety.com instead for further information so that our lines of communication remain open for Katrina relief efforts.
Heart warming or heart breaking stories about the rescue or abandonment of individual animals abound in the media. People understandably want to know what happened to these animals because it is almost impossible for everyone to comprehend such overwhelming death and destruction, and such stories put a personal face on the staggering losses of this tragedy and provide hope, and sometimes cause us to be angry and frustrated, because we want to be certain that the animal victims of Katrina are not left behind. Good examples are the television news crew that filmed a dog swimming towards their boat hoping to be rescued, but instead was left behind, or the story of “Snowball”, a dog reportedly taken away from a little boy, because the local government official would not allow this special family member to travel to the evacuation centre.
However, once more these news reports have generated many duplicate emails and phone calls from well meaning and concerned individuals and groups which have meant that people calling to report missing animals, to ask for advice or to support Katrina relief efforts have been pushed aside.
At this time we have no more specific details about these animals.
Rather than calling or sending emails to us, please check out our website instead for further information, as it becomes available so that our lines of communication remain open for Katrina relief efforts.
Despite all of their hard and dangerous good works, there are rumours that animal rescue workers are euthanizing large numbers of rescued animals and from all of the sources we have contacted on the ground, this information is simply not true. Only animals who have been examined by a veterinarian and determined that his/her illness or injury is too great are being euthanized. That animal rescue workers continue with their tireless efforts in the face of such rumours, tells us a great deal about their commitment to protect those who cannot help themselves.
To learn more about how to protect your own animals before disaster strikes, we have prepared a Special Humane Society of Canada Emergency Response package which can be found here.
On behalf of the animals, thank you for caring,
Chairman & CEO
The Humane Society of Canada