Caring hands reach stranded pets

BY LARA BRICKER | BALTIMORE | September 24, 2001



"The animals are being treated for dehydration, respiratory distress, and shock but the good news is that the majority of these pets are okay."

—Dr. Larry Hawk


Animal welfare agencies

say the best way for people to help animals who may have

lost their owners to the terrorist attacks is to

contribute financially to national humane society groups

leading relief efforts.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

Animals (ASPCA), a New England-based organization, has

been receiving calls from many people who want to know

how they can help the abandoned pets, said Director of

Development and Marketing Virginia MacDonald. "We are in

essence, just trying to direct people to where the help

is needed," MacDonald said. "What they really need is

money."

People have also called wanting to help the rescue dogs

being used to help search for people in the World Trade

Center debris. Diane Gindlesperger, who works at the

Plaistow (NH) Animal Medical Center, said as an animal

lover she has been touched by the rescue dogs. "Those

dogs are heroes too," she said. "They should have some

recognition."

Soon after the attacks, many people began donating

booties for the feet of the search and rescue dogs to

protect them when walking on the rubble. An e-mail was

circulated indicating the dogs were in need of more

booties. But the Humane Society of the United States

(HSUS) reported specialized Veterinary Medical

Assistance Teams in New York are supplying booties.

So, at this point no more booties are needed, MacDonald

said, adding she has had calls from people wanting to

find out how the dogs are doing. "The people that come

to us are animal lovers and they want to make sure these

dogs are looked after," she said.

Relief efforts for pets in New York City are being

coordinated through the Center for Animal Care and

Control (CACC), with help coming from the American

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the

Humane Society of the United States.

The ASPCA reported more than 200 pets have been rescued

from homes evacuated following the World Trade Center

attack. In addition, more than 300 animals have received

medical care. "The animals are being treated for

dehydration, respiratory distress, and shock but the

good news is that the majority of these pets are okay,"

said ASPCA President Dr. Larry Hawk. "It's important to

remember that these pets are four-legged family members.

We've seen many owners simply break down in tears of joy

after bring reunited with a pet that they have not seen

in days."

The CACC in New York City has been focusing its efforts

on locating pets stranded in apartment buildings, either

because their owners were evacuated or because they have

lost their owners to the attacks. "We will continue to

do everything possible to care for stranded pets,

reunite these animals with their owners and alleviate

the concerns and fears of displaced pet owners," CACC

Executive Director Marilyn Haggerty-Brown said.

Hawk said people are finding comfort in their pets

during this time of mourning. "The heartwarming stories

(I have been told) will live with me forever," Hawk

said. "One man's wife was still missing, but at least he

now had his two cats back. He was even willing to adopt

an orphaned cat on the spot, saying 'What is one more?'

He truly took comfort in his pets as family helping him

deal with this crisis."

Immediately after the terrorist attacks when all

commercial planes were grounded, the HSUS worked with

the airlines to locate animals that may have been on a

plane. Most major airlines took stranded animals to

local veterinary hospitals or shelters.

The ASPCA is working to locate animals still abandoned

in New York and is asking anyone who may be aware of

animals to contact the ASPCA. The organization has

established a hotline for people to call and report pets

with missing owners: 212-876-7700 ext. 4PET.

Animal humane organizations are encouraging people to

make up a disaster plan for their house, in case they

ever have to leave and their pets need to be rescued.

The ASPCA points out that pets are not allowed at most

American Red Cross operated shelters, so people should

have somewhere they know they can take their pets if

disaster strikes. Some other suggestions include:

-- Always keep a collar and tag on your pets

-- If you have already been evacuated and are living

somewhere else be sure to place a temporary tag on your

pets displaying your temporary address

-- Keep current pictures of your pet on you

-- Create a pet disaster kit that includes: current

pictures of your pet, one week's supply of food and

water, food and water bowls, rabies tag information,

special medical needs information, extra collar and

leash, cat carrier or dog crate, litter box and litter,

and a first aid kit for pets.

Anyone who wishes to donate and help the animals

affected by the tragedy in New York may send donations

to: ASPCA Animal Disaster Relief Fund, 424 E. 92nd St.,

New York, NY 10128, or call 212-876-770 ext. 4512.


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