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Hurricane Katrina leaves thousands of pets stranded

Approximately 150 evacuees from Hurricane Katrina arrived at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport in St. Louis on Thursday. The four-legged evacuees were rescued from the southern Mississippi coast areas and were flown from Bobby L. Chain airport in Hattiesburg, Miss. via a chartered plane. The Humane Society of Missouri was on hand to greet the animals.

The Humane Society of Missouri in cooperation with the Humane Society of the United States is bringing the animals to St. Louis to help relieve the overcrowded animal shelters in the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast.

“We are prepared for and expect to receive many more animals in the days and weeks to come,” said Kathy Warnick, president of the Humane Society of Missouri. “Our veterinary and shelter teams are in place to receive the animals and we have more than 1,400 emergency foster families ready to help.”

After arriving in St. Louis, the animals were taken to the Humane Society of Missouri Headquarters. The large number of animals required transportation assistance from Enterprise Truck Rental and the St. Louis City Police Department.

Once the animals arrived at the shelter, they were examined by staff veterinarians. The animals received decontamination baths and were also examined and vaccinated by veterinarians in Mississippi. All pets were also microchipped.

“At this point the animals are going out to foster homes,” said Humane Society of Missouri Director of Communications Jeane Jae. “We are expecting an additional 45 pets this weekend from the New Orleans area. We are very grateful that so many people have helped out.”

All of the animals that arrived in St. Louis were either abandoned or surrendered by owners who are no longer able to care for them.

“These animals have come through a lot – a terrifying storm, separation from owners, water and food depravation and multiple relocations,” Warnick said. “Some of them will require special care and all will need extra love and attention. We are very grateful to the hundreds of people who have volunteered to provide foster homes for these pets.”

Foster families have agreed to care for the pets for a minimum of 30 days. If the owner has not claimed the pet after 30 days, it may be placed up for adoption.

Some local animal lovers have formed a group called “Angel Paws Rescue” to aid the animals that have been rescued in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Cindy Crump, a group organizer, named the group in honor of her rescued rottweiler “Angel.”

“We are collecting donations and items that will go directly to the Humane Society of Missouri that will be used for these rescued animals,” Crump said. “They are in need of everything. They need monetary donations because all of the medical attention is paid for. We also are accepting crates, dog food, blankets, cat food, just about anything that is animal related.”

Crump said donations can be made at the Commere Bank in Desloge, the Cowgirl Cafe in Bismarck or at Countryside Veterninary Clinic in Caledonia.

“If someone wants to donate something and they can’t haul it, they can call me at (573) 734-6499 and I will come and get it,” Crump said.

Crump said she got involved with the relief effort because of her background in animal control.

“Over the last eight years that I worked in animal control, I worked closely with the Humane Society. When I heard that they were going down I wanted to help. People always think about the people that need help, but they don’t think about the pets that have been affected. My pets are like my kids. Right now we need people to step up and make donations or volunteer to serve as a foster home.”

Since Aug. 31, the Humane Society of Missouri’s Disaster Response Team has rescued more than 1,000 animals in distress in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. On a daily basis they have faced dangerous conditions including alligators, debris, polluted waters and rough living conditions.

The team is equipped with a trailer that can transport up to 100 animals, a 14-foot boat, a trailer for chainsaws, generators and other supplies, six trucks, one van equipped with animal cages and an RV to serve as living quarters for the team.

For more information about making a donation or about becoming a foster home call (573) 779-3445 or (573) 734-6499.

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