On the seven year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, many of the heroes who saved animals from the flood waters of New Orleans and coastal Mississippi are back on the scene and already in action. They’re laying hands on dogs and cats being surrendered by families.
This is not an issue of people bringing the pets to safe haven to ride out the storm. This rise comes from people who are leaving their pets behind permanently, and unfortunately, at the worst possible time.
“Yesterday at the Jefferson Parish shelters in New Orleans, we saw a high number of owner surrendered animals,” said Animal Rescue Front Founder Chris McLaughlin. “They have had to shut their doors to any more and have asked for our help.”
Help Has Arrived
Animal Rescue Front was one of the few pearls formed under the crushing pressure of the floods created by Hurricane Katrina. They stayed not just weeks, but months, as they tunneled, rafted, climbed and clawed through every obstacle that stood between them and an animal in need.
Moments ago, it was decided that Animal Rescue Front and In Defense of Animals will be working together to help the animals who will never see their families again, not because they were lost in the flood, but because they were surrendered in sheer anticipation of the storm.
“We have to move these animals out of the shelters so there will be room for the stray and abandoned animals expected in the coming days,” Chris continues.
It’s important to know that there are provisions for animals this time around. Louisiana’s Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain reported today that their temporary shelter in Alexandria is playing host to dogs, cats and other small pets. All of these animals are being cared for until their owners can safely join them again. And some of the human shelters are now welcoming residents with pets.
There is already a significant population of homeless and neglected street dogs and cats in the Gulf region. Flooding will put thousands of those animals in danger and they’ll need both rescue and housing.
How High Will Waters Rise?
According to Weather.com, if peak storm surge occurs at high tide, peak water levels above ground could reach 3-6 feet for South-central Louisiana and the Western Flordia Panhandle and as much as 6 -12 feet for Southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi coast.
The first batch of animals is already set to leave the area. Animal Rescue Front and In Defense of Animals will send the first convoy close to 2,000 miles away to receiving shelters in Portland, Oregon. It is entirely possible that additional groups of animals will be sent to the New England area shelters as well.
“We don’t know what the next 24 hours will bring,” Chris continues. “They are forecasting an 8-12 ft. storm surge with a 24 hour system circulating a potential rainfall of 20 inches. An eye is starting to form and it has set its sights on New Orleans. The foremost question on everyone’s mind is ‘will the levees hold?’ We pray they do and we know what will happen if they don’t. And we can’t let the animals die.”
Animal Rescue Front is a founding member of the Harmony Fund network and all donations today will be applied directly to the transport, rescue and care of animals who fall victim to this emergency. Donations are gratefully accepted here.