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Disaster Relief for Pets
(The silent victims of natural disasters)
Hurricane Katrina on approach to Gulf Coast.

      Imagine leaving enough food and water for your pets for your brief trip away. Now imagine a natural disaster striking and you're not allowed back to your home -- ever! Your pets become trapped in your house or locked in the backyard. Day after day your pets wait for your return in order to rescue them from starvation, thirst, and the thought of abandonment. For a large dog left in a backyard, it might be easy to escape to go in search of food, but for a pet trapped inside a home, what chance of survival do they have? After a natural disaster strikes, the Internet becomes deluged with frantic postings from pet owners such as, "I live at xxx ... Permission granted to enter by any means. 1 cat Lucy: small female calico ... Use what ever is necessary to get her out." These postings tell an all too familiar tale.

A pet labrador vainly attempts to swim through flood waters towards a rescue boat but is rebuffed by searchers.

      Immediately after a natural disaster strikes, little effort is undertaken to save pets that are trapped in locked houses and if happened upon by emergency relief personnel in search of people, the pets are simply passed by. Worse yet are the pets that have escaped the confines of their homes. Out on their own, scared and hungry, fearing everything, they search for food and a safe place to hide. Most emergency relief personnel will stay clear of the pets that they encounter along the way for fear that the pets have become dangerous after being without food and drinking nothing but contaminated water. In Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, one newspaper reporter wrote, "Many of those animals sit forlornly on the rooftops of flooded homes, slowly starving to death as rescue boats ignore them, looking for people instead. Some have even tried swimming to boats, only to be rebuffed by the rescuers." See picture right.

Dogs take to high ground away from flood waters. A sunken truck sits behind them.

      Valerie Bennett was left crying at the bedside of her hospitalized husband, Lorne, in Atlanta, Georgia, thinking of the pets they were forced to abandon in New Orleans when hurricane relief workers told them they could bring only one item. They remorsefully chose Lorne's bag of extensive medication. Another individual reported his cat being taken away from him by a National Guardsmen when boarding an evacuee bus. He was told the cat would be taken to a nearby hotel but he still doesn't know the fate of his cat. The stories of pets left behind are as lengthy as those from survivors who make it out of devastated areas. Cats, dogs, snakes, birds, fish, pigs, horses, the list of pets is endless. All become homeless, with many on the loose. Hungry, thirsty, and waiting -- waiting for rescue and reunification with their grief stricken owners.

An oil soaked dog awaits rescue.

      Pet owners who evacuated coastal communities, when the hurricanes approached the Gulf coast in 2005, thought they would be back in a few days and didn't think to take with them a picture of their pet so they are forced to give only a physical description of their lost or trapped pet. "One male orange tabby cat missing" or a "female Terrier mix, black and brown" are how notices read that become posted on the Internet. Unfortunately, their descriptions only narrow down the search to a few thousand pets also lost or abandoned in the disaster areas. Monetary relief for the victims of natural disasters reach into the billions of dollars. Animal rescue will be lucky to receive pennies of those funds. Your donations are crucial in rescuing and reuniting these pets with their owners before the pets become too sick to bring back to health from being out on their own or very near starvation. Pets living in areas affected by natural diststers didn't ask to be left behind. So, please be generous in your donations.

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