Log 19 - 26 September 2005

We’re back where we belong again, after having to stay put as Rita blew over. We only have a few days left of field operations in New Orleans and we’re making every second count. Yesterday, we made some real progress, bringing in animals whose chances of survival were getting slimmer and slimmer. We were able to come back to the staging area with more than just live animals, but with hope for all the families that had to leave their pets behind.

We worked all day responding to requests for rescues from the national database. At the first stop, Responders Katie, Colleen, Manny, and Pam discovered two turtles. Based on the water marks on the aquarium, it looks as if the two turtles had only survived Katrina’s toxic flood water because their “home” had bobbed and floated in the water like a boat. After dropping the turtles off to be transported to Lamar-Dixon, the teams headed to the next address where it was reported a Great Dane was trapped on the second floor. It took a while to locate the house -- a tree had overturned during winds and flooding, obscuring the house and address. Despite federal and rescue organization’s scouring the area, it appeared this house was like the many that had not been entered since Katrina hit. It was anyone’s guess what we would find inside

log192.jpgFinally in, it took rescuers five minutes just to get from the door to the bottom of the stairs because there was so much furniture to climb over. By the time they got to the stairs, the Great Dane “Elsa” had bounded down the steps and was waiting for them. Exhausted and traumatized and sustaining in ways we can only imagine, the enormous dog seemed to weigh more than the Responders soaking wet!

Since the Hurricane Hit and Elsa’s family had evacuated, Elsa had been trapped inside, unable to get out despite her large size. To rescue her, Responders had to lift her front legs over furniture, and then boost her rear end up and over. Still, Responder Colleen, who happened to be the one holding Elsa’s leash, said once the dog caught a glimpse of daylight through the open door, it was Elsa who seemed to drag the humans over the furniture!

At the next address on our list, our volunteers could see a cat sitting in the window, waiting for them as soon as they got out of their car. Inside, our Responders found three more cats that couldn’t decide whether to be frightened of the strangers or ecstatic to have food, water, and human attention. In the end, the cats fled under a king-sized bed. We don’t want to imagine the fear and anxiety the last four weeks had caused them. The team knew they had to get to them, so they took the bed apart, and slid the mattress one way to grab one cat, and another way to grab the other cat, then the other way again.

At the next stop, the team searched the house without any luck. They assume the reported pet had escaped or, hopefully, the family had come back for it. They were about to leave when one of the Responders spotted a suspicious-looking lump under the bed covers. She knew she had to be especially careful about how she touched the lump if it were indeed a cat: Be gentle and quiet to not scare it, but firm and strong to not let it bolt. She did it! The team got the animal that was slightly shaken up at being pulled from under his cozy blanket, but otherwise healthy.

All the animals rescued today were brought out of New Orleans to the Lamar-Dixon shelter. I can’t wait to see what we’re able to do tomorrow.

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