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From 4 September 2005 Issue

Katrina
By JJswans - JJswans@aol.com

Before Hurricane Katrina hit land, a televised news report said that officials were warning that anyone who abandoned their animals would be charged with animal cruelty. Since animals are usually the last thing that government officials, and the news media, concern themselves with, it was encouraging to see a preemptive attempt to protect potential animal victims.

An unknown number of people risked their own lives by staying with their animals, and that too was encouraging to see, though it brought to mind the importance of increasing the numbers of shelters that would allow animals, and increasing attempts to get such information out to animal guardians that there are shelters that will help.

What was discouraging is how many stories are now emerging about people that were forced to make a choice between abandoning their animals in order to be allowed to enter a shelter set up for humans, or risking their own lives by remaining outside of the shelter with their animals. How can officials tell someone they must abandon their animals after stating that such abandonment would mean charges of animal cruelty?

It is estimated that 60 percent of the U.S. population has a companion animal. Eighty percent of that 60 percent have two or more companion animals. And yet shelters for humans don't take that into account - there are no contingencies for the furred, feathered, or scaled members of people's families which have proven to be medically and psychologically beneficial for their people. And if there was ever a time when people need the soothing and stabilizing effect that an animal can give, it's when they have lost everything they own, and their lives are in upheaval, such as the victims of Katrina.

How difficult would it be for the Red Cross and the Salvation Army to join hands with the HSUS, the ASPCA, and other animal aid organizations who could supply crates/cages to be available at every Red Cross/Salvation Army shelter, along with food for the animals. If there were people that didn't want to be around the crated animals, they could even have non-animal sections of the shelters.

Nothing made the need for disaster shelter reform more evident than the story seen on CNN of a small white poodle-type dog, standing on his hind legs, with front paws on the outside of an evacuation bus' closed door, begging to be allowed aboard. One can only guess if this was Snowball who had been taken away from a small boy as he got on an evacuation bus, as the child reportedly screamed for his dog. That dog didn't have a Snowball's chance in Hell.

Please, send your donations to your favorite group, whether that be the HSUS or the Red Cross, or whoever - but include a request that those groups helping people, and those groups helping animals, ban together and help the entire family, which include both people and their companion animals.

You can help by donating to the following groups - check their websites for updates:

* Noah's Wish - www.noahswish.org/index.htm & www.noahswish.org/Donations.htm 

* United Animal Nations / EARS: Emergency Animal Rescue Service -
www.uan.org/ears & https://secure.ga3.org/01/UAN_disaster_relief 

* American Humane Association - http://go.care2.com/36770 & http://go.care2.com/36770 

* HSUS: Humane Society of the U.S. - www.hsus.org & https://secure.hsus.org/01/katrina_relief/nNp1S5l910mbj

* Best Friends Animal Society - http://news.bestfriends.org & www.bestfriends.org/donate . Also animals lost in the area affected by Katrina can be reported at email: hurricane@bestfriends.org or 435-644-3965 x 4455

Go on to I Can't See the Forest for the Bush
Return to 4 September 2005 Issue
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