|Title||Katrina pets make landfall in Redmond - Veterinary hospital rescues the animals evacuees left behind|
|Scope & Content||
Katrina pets make landfall in Redmond - Veterinary hospital rescues the animals evacuees left behind
by Chris Winters
``This is the first time that animals are being brought into this state'' from the hurricane regions, said Hayden Hainsworth, the intake coordinator for Pasado's Safe Haven, the animal rescue organization spearheading the operation.
But it won't be the last. Hainsworth expects subsequent shipments of animals, up to 100 each time, to be arriving in subsequent weeks. The flight arriving Tuesday was paid for by the Barrier family, which runs car dealerships in the region.
It's nearly a month after the storm hit, but animals are only now being let out of Louisiana.
At a little past 5 p.m., the staff gathers near a side door of the hospital. Right on time, a convoy of minivans and SUVs start pulling up and the yapping of pint-sized canines can be heard.
Dr. Brad Crauer, the hospital's medical director, issues some last-minute instructions before the cages are unloaded: Be careful; the pets are nervous; no nose-to-nose contact, because they don't know if the dogs will get along.
The staff of the hospital has set up an intake post near the door: Each pet is given a name, photographed for the Petfinder.com Web site, fed some water or a treat, scanned for any microchips (the vast majority do not have them) and led inside for weighing.
A team of 14, including five from the hospital, was one of the first groups of volunteers into the storm-devastated city. Crauer said they went door-to-door, rounding up pets the evacuees were forced to leave behind. Some of the pets were in bad shape.
``It depended on the foresight of the owners in taking care of these pets,'' Crauer said. Some people probably thought they would be back in a day or so, while some left opened 40-pound bags of dog food.
Many of the facilities in Louisiana were full. Crauer's team handled waves of 150-200 dogs every other day. In Gonzales, La., a shelter held about 4,000 dogs. Others were similarly packed and just couldn't take any more animals.
``Gonzales is completely overwhelmed,'' Hainsworth said. ``The sheriff shut us down.''
The teams also saw their fair share of dead animals, although not as many as they expected.
The animals' biggest need, coming out of the disaster area, will be medical care.
``They're going to need a lot of tender loving care and veterinary attention once their paws hit the ground here,'' said Nancy McKenney, CEO for the Humane Society for Seattle and King County.
The Humane Society wasn't involved in Tuesday's rescue, but has been working through the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators to locate trained staff to Gonzales. The Humane Society has also established a Katrina Relief Fund to benefit local shelters in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Inside the Redmond hospital, the new arrivals are given a thorough going-over: examination, vaccinating, de-worming, bathing, de-fleaing, nail-clipping. The healthy animals will then be sent up to the Cascade Kennel in Woodinville until Pasado's staff can match them up with foster homes.
Dr. Danielle Jaeger gives a dog named Fluffy an examination. Fluffy stinks, is underweight and is noticeably lethargic.
``He kind of has a toxic smell to him,'' Jaeger said. ``We were down in New Orleans and the smell was everywhere.''
She lists Fluffy's ailments: bloodshot eyes, kind of depressed, fleas, not neutered. Fluffy doesn't flinch as he's vaccinated for distemper, rabies and kennel cough and a blood sample is taken.
Then it's off to the baths with him. In comes Lexie, a yappy Pekinese mix with severely matted fur. Jaeger, Crauer and the clinic's other two vets, Melissa Worland and Rebecca Rogers, are all called to work the assembly line.
Again Jaeger rattles off the dog's issues to an assistant, but notes she's of normal weight, and so was probably overweight before the storm. In addition to fleas, Lexis has gingivitis. She looks into the dog's eyes.
``I would say -- hello, Sweetness! -- bilateral conjunctivitis,'' she says.
Animals that are still sick will remain at the hospital until they recover.
``We have animals that have been traumatized, emaciated and dehydrated,'' Hainsworth said. None of the animals will go into shelters and face possible euthanasia, she said.
Every pet arriving in Washington and other states around the country has been cataloged with the address where they were found. Descriptions will be posted at Petfinder.com to give the owners a chance to find their lost companions.
If the owners can't be found, or they don't claim their pet by mid-October, the pets will be put up for adoption. Many of the 90 or so foster families Pasado's has lined up are interested in adopting, Hainsworth said.
Anna Martin, a West Seattle resident, holds the leash on a golden retriever mix in the parking lot, where the dog is drinking in the spray from a garden hose with a hole in it. She's named him Scout. Her husband, Steve Siadek, is a volunteer with Pasado's who personally pulled Scout out from under a house in New Orleans.
Scout is skinny and malnourished and when found was really skittish, Martin said, but his mood has improved since his rescue.
``He definitely seems like he was cared for, because he's loving,'' she says. ``Not very well trained,'' she adds as the dog leaps at a reporter.
Many of the dogs are still pretty nervous from their ordeal, Crauer said while examining a black Labrador.
``They don't know what happened,'' he said. ``The people just disappeared.''
He said he knows Pasado's had rescued at least another 60 dogs that will soon be on the way north.
``My guess is that we're going to keep receiving them as long as they have places to go,'' Crauer said.
Chris Winters can be reached at email@example.com or 425-453-4232.
SAFE HAVEN OPERATION
For more information on Pasado's Safe Haven hurricane rescue operation, volunteering or adopting rescued pets, go to the group's Web site at www.pasadosafehaven.org.