Log 01 - 31 August 2005

"We’ve been going for 30 straight hours, we are exhausted, we are out of water, it’s hot and we need help!” Those were the first words I heard from Aileene Maldonado with the Mississippi Animal Rescue League late yesterday afternoon. Fortunately, just minutes ago, one of American Humane’s teams arrived at the Jackson Fairgrounds and immediately rolled up their sleeves to pitch in. I could hear shouts and screams on the cell phone as the exhausted workers recognized our teams and the American Humane vehicles.

Late yesterday, I was finally able to get through to Dr. James Watson, State Veterinarian for Mississippi, who happened to be waiting in line for gas an event that was an hour and counting at the time. The devastation he described for southern Mississippi was mind-numbing even after two days of CNN. The coastal section is inaccessible, making it very difficult to size up the situation and for teams to find a good staging site.

Further north, there are a number of dogs and cats being cared for at a horse facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Dr. Watson is working toward establishing a shelter there within the next couple of days. American Humane has offered a sheltering team to assist in those efforts.

Our friends from the Animal Rescue League of Boston are now arriving in Nashville after a very long night battling some vehicle problems. Long time American Humane volunteer responder Nick Gilman is leading that team of six highly trained technical animal rescuers who come with all the gear and equipment necessary for flood situations. That team will join up with our team in Jackson by late tonight and await word from Dr. Watson as to where they will be dispatched.

In Denver, our 82-ft completely self-contained rescue rig just pulled out of Fort Collins headed toward Denver, then Louisiana. The rig should reach New Orleans by Friday. In the meantime, American Humane continues to receive frantic calls from folks who were forced out of their homes and were unable to take their animals with them. I just hung up from talking to a mom whose daughter and son-in-law were on their honeymoon when the storm hit. They had kenneled their two dogs before leaving and had no idea if they were the shelter was evacuated or whether the facility was above the flooded area.

And about an hour ago, I received a frantic call from a woman who was trying to save eight dogs and five cats in Slidell, Louisiana her home was gone, she had no power and no water, and she was desperate to find someone to help.

This is why American Humane is doing everything possible to get trained rescuers into those areas. Hopefully, we will be in the field shortly doing everything in our power to rescue what I suspect are thousands of animals stranded from the storm.

LOG 02