Wednesday, November 7, 2007

animal rescue

I volunteered at the Animal Rescue of New Orleans, a no-kill animal shelter that has bravely taken in thousands of the animals abandoned from Katrina. The previous owners of many of these animals were killed in the hurricane, or were not able to evacuate the animals with them because of the limitations of the rescuers.

Most of the other shelters in the Gulf Coast area took in the thousands of abandoned pets immediately following the hurricane, but then had to put many of them down a year later because the shelters didn’t have the resources to support so many animals. This shelter was instrumental not only in taking on so many animals, but also in helping to get hundreds of animals transferred to other shelters around the country, where they have a greater chance of being adopted. There’s a great video about them here.

These animals are stressed. Some were traumatized by the terror of the hurricane, flooding, fires and their aftermath, and seem to have animal PTSD. Others were also messed up by the chemical sludge they had to swim in to survive. All are cramped for space, despite the organization’s best efforts. Almost all of the animals were totally sweet once they got a bit of love.

I spent most of the day handling the trouble animals: running miles with the dogs and their pent-up energy, crooning and stroking the quivering ones, nuzzling with the lonely cats, socializing the fiercest babies. It was an incredibly rewarding day. Tears actually came to my eyes when one of the angriest dogs there, who was lashing out and harshly biting anyone who came near him at the beginning of the day, crept over to me and curled up on my lap and licked my fingers after we went on a long run together.

The people here are just as messed up as the animals, but you can't walk up to a strange person and cuddle them until it's ok. It was wonderful to be able to give some of the New Orleans residents the love they need.


A'Llyn said...

Wow...that must have been an amazing experience.

Reed said...

Wow is right... good for you for helping out. From this larger community - my thanks for all you both are doing. We are so proud.