When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, pets were not allowed in evacuation centers. More than 250,000 of them had to be left behind to drown or die of starvation. Many pet parents who refused to abandon their four-legged family members died along with them.
Exactly seven years later, Isaac has been wreaking havoc in the same area. Fortunately, this storm’s impact on pets is very different than Katrina’s, thanks to the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2006. Shelters must now be provided for both people and pets after a disaster. Evacuees are allowed to bring their crated pets on public transportation.
These are some of the pet rescue stories that have come out of Louisiana over the past few days. They should serve as a wake-up call for all pet parents to be prepared for emergencies, whether it’s a hurricane, earthquake, wildfire or other disaster.
Shelter Pets Relocated Prior to Storm
Prior to Isaac’s arrival, the Louisiana SPCA (LA/SPCA) crated 60 dogs and 87 cats, and transported them via an air-conditioned truck to the SPCA of Texas in Dallas. The facility has lowered its adoption fees by 50 percent this week in an effort to make room for its new arrivals.
On Wednesday, the first furry Isaac evacuee was adopted – a Chihuahua that a woman saw on the local news and fell in love with.
Shelters as far north as New Jersey are also helping out. St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J., took in 35 LA/SPCA dogs on Wednesday.
An email update today from LA/SPCA stated, “Now that Isaac has moved inland, we are continuing to take care of those currently at the shelter despite having to rely on generators until power can be restored. Animal Control has responded to several emergency situations since the storm including calls of abandoned and distressed animals. Animals continue to come to the shelter and are in need of food, water, care and attention.”
Click here to make a donation to LA/SPCA.
Elderly Man and His Four Dogs Rescued from Rooftop
One of the most heartwarming Isaac rescue stories to emerge so far is that of 70-year-old Fred Leslie and his four dogs. It perfectly illustrates how far things have progressed since Katrina.
Leslie and his dogs, who appear to be Pit Bull mixes, were rescued from the roof of their flooded Braithwaite, La., house on Tuesday, exactly seven years after he lost his previous home in the same area because of Katrina.
Isaac caused a nearby levee to breach, resulting in floodwaters nearly 12 feet high. The first floors of two-story houses in Leslie’s neighborhood were filled with water up to the ceilings. To escape, Leslie and his dogs climbed up to the attic.
The National Guard had to use an axe to break through an air vent in order to rescue them. The terrified dogs were pulled out first and put on a boat.
WWLTV.com reporter Jonathan Betz was in the boat and witnessed the rescue. He said it was “a stark difference from what we saw with Katrina, when the rescuers I went out with made the decision not to take the dogs and the pets with them. The scene was so radically different then than it is now. This time they are making the effort to try to save pets, which was very precious to [Leslie].”
145 Pets Evacuated From St. John the Baptist Parish
Dogs, cats and birds, along with their pet parents, were transported in three tractor trailers from flooded St. John the Baptist Parish to shelters in Northern Louisiana, nola.com reported today.
A total of 195 pets have been relocated since Tuesday, according to Mike Strain, commissioner of agriculture and forestry. He told nola.com the majority of them were taken to a “mega-evacuation center” in Alexandria, La., where pet parents can stay with their four-legged family members.
“The idea is to keep the owners and the pets together so people can take their dogs for a walk” and be with their animals during a stressful time, he said.
HSUS and ASPCA Rescue Teams Deployed to Hardest-Hit Areas
The Humane Society of the United States deployed its Animal Rescue Team today to help Louisiana pets in need, according to the website. Follow @HumaneSociety on Twitter for the latest updates. To donate to the HSUS Disaster Relief Fund, click here or text LOVE to 20222 to make a $10 donation.
The ASPCA is also working with the Louisiana State Animal Response Team to rescue stranded animals. Responders are going door to door in flooded areas to locate any pets needing help. To make a donation to help the ASPCA’s efforts, click here.
Damage to ‘Pit Bulls and Parolees’ Rescue
The Villalobos Rescue Center (VRC), which is featured on Animal Planet’s “Pit Bulls and Parolees,” relocated from California to New Orleans earlier this year.
According to updates on VRC’s Facebook page, the new facility has sustained damages ranging from a fallen tree that broke a fence to kennels breaking after becoming airborne. “But the good news is that the dogs are inside and very calm and comfy,” according to a status update.
Meanwhile, the crew is out rescuing dogs displaced by the storm. Click here for information about how to help VRC.
Animal Rescue New Orleans Desperately Needs Volunteers
Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) was founded by the first animal responders after Katrina, and is the only volunteer-run no-kill shelter in the region. ARNO is in dire need of volunteers to walk dogs and help clean up its shelter, located at 271 Plauche Street in New Orleans. Donations for supplies are also welcome and can be made by clicking here.
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