Animals receiving help

A frequently forgotten victim of hurricanes is the animal population, but the Humane Society of the United States is working hard to shelter and save them.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | August 31, 2005


A frequently forgotten victim of hurricanes is the animal population, but the Humane Society of the United States is working hard to shelter and save them.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) deployed workers and response trailers into Mississippi Tuesday to begin the one of the biggest disaster recoveries the agency has ever had to handle.

"This is going to require a massive, long-term effort to help the animals and the people impacted by Hurricane Katrina," said Laura Bevan, leader of HSUS' field response to Katrina, in a news release.

That effort is already underway as HSUS is working in coordination with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross (ARC), The Salvation Army (TSA), the national and local chapters of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, and local chapters of the HSUS.

The HSUS Disaster Response Unit, a four-wheel drive truck and 38-foot air-conditioned trailer equipped with rescue, sheltering and communications gear as well as pet food and supplies, is on its way to Mississippi.

Bevan said once their mobile response units arrive, they will set up command center.

"We will set up the big rigs and a compound where we can start distributing food, water, and be able to take in animals as people find them," explained Bevan, who directs the HSUS southeast regional office. "We will send out assessments teams to find the issues we're going to deal with."

She added that the HSUS works very closely with the ARC and TSA to reach out to people. They will be there to hand out pet food as people gather food for themselves. Bevan said they will also try to track down animals that people say they had to leave behind.

The HSUS will work with each state's veterinary association to find those vets who want to volunteer in the response.

Bevan said they already know that lower Mississippi is home to many horses, which they said require significant water to survive. To help, the HSUS will do their best to reach farms with water trucks.

Meanwhile, states outside of the hurricane's impact zone are assisting as well. Shelters in Texas took in the evacuated animals from Louisiana shelters. The Mississippi Animal Rescue League shelters in less impacted areas took in animals from evacuees.

Mobile veterinary units and rescuers specializing in livestock from Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida are traveling to affected areas as well. Officials from HSUS add that members of their national Disaster Animal Response Teams (DARTs) are staging resources in strategic locations as well until they can be moved into the area.

According to the news release from HSUS, "The costs associated with the HSUS' rescue efforts are expected to exceed the organization's previous major disaster responses, which include aiding the animal victims of last year's tsunami, and responding to the series of hurricanes that hit Florida last year."

HSUS officials agree that the best way for the public to help is to donate money.


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Humane Society of the United States

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