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Katrina Rescue

Hurricane Katrina Rescue

By Lew Olson • October 2005 Newsletter
This is for Linda. I am taking a break from the Canine Nutrition series this month to share with you my experience with Rottweiler Rescue and Hurricane Katrina that has taken all of my time over the last month. Next month we will continue with “Protein in the Diet”.

Hurricane Katrina has affected all of us in many ways. Most of us read the news in horror and with fascination as we watched the largest national disaster in United States history destroy much of the Louisiana and Mississippi coast. Many of us gave money to various charities and others spent time performing volunteer work.

In the dog world, the reality of this disaster and how it affected pets wasn’t known until after we witnessed just how much this destruction had affected human lives. The reports on how the Red Cross, other rescue teams and transports refused to take people’s pets didn’t hit the news until after shelters were set up for the evacuees. News footage became available showing pets left behind on rooftops and about anxious owners trying to get animal groups to save their pets left in their homes and yards.
I live in Houston, Texas and when I heard about Katrina, I immediately volunteered at the Houston Astro Dome as a crisis counselor. During this time, a good friend of mine, Linda Stoltz, called me to tell me an animal shelter was being set up seven miles from her home. This shelter was for dogs, cats, horses, birds and exotic animals that were being rescued in the areas in Louisiana affected by Hurricane Katrina. At first I didn’t put much thought to it, as I was busy with my current volunteer work.
I just didn’t understand the magnitude of the problem. Linda continued to call me to describe the growing problem with the number of animals being brought to the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, Louisiana and with her concern of housing these animals in non climate controlled horse barns.
I have always known Linda to be level headed and I finally asked her if she wanted me to come down there to help. She hesitated . . . and then said, “No, I can handle it.” I heard that hesitation, and told her I would leave the next day to help. The relief in her voice was so apparent that I set out as early as I could on September 8th.
Nothing can describe what I saw when I got there. The Lamar Dixon Expo center is a large complex used mainly for horse shows, but also for other events, including trade shows and dog shows. All the air conditioned buildings were being used to house the Red Cross and Evacuees from New Orleans. In the five horse barns that remained, two were used for livestock (mainly horses, but also some goats). The other three held dogs, and the sight was shocking.
Each barn was full of crates, stacked in the horse stalls. There were far too few volunteers to help care for them. It took five hours for Linda and me to go through the three barns and do a head count for Rottweilers. We often had to stop and clean soiled crates and try to find larger crates for the one that were in crates too small. When we were done, we had counted 29 of them. At that point, I didn’t realize this was only the beginning of the dog rescue that had started in New Orleans and we were only seeing just the start of what was to unfold over the next few weeks.
This September was particularly a hot one with temperatures in the high 90’s and high humidity. Linda and I went to every hardware and variety store we could find, to buy buckets and snaps for each Rottweiler’s crate. I contacted the American Rottweiler Club and a committee was quickly formed called the ARC Disaster Relief Committee. A call was put out for more volunteers and donations.
Linda and I labeled each crate with the American Rottweiler Club’s name and our personal names and phone numbers and information stating we would transport and foster each of these dogs.
Each day we returned, more dogs appeared at Lamar Dixon. When the population reached 3,000 dogs, the facility was shut down for a few days and the authorities refused to take in any more. It was apparent the numbers were greater than the space available or the number of volunteers needed to properly care for all these dogs.
Transports filled with dogs were lined up outside the locked gates. Meetings were held, and soon the gates were reopened. More dogs were being added and calls to other shelters were being made to transport these dogs to other areas of the United States. Linda continued to talk with the authorities in charge (which for a time, changed daily) trying to get them to release the Rottweilers to our care. We provided proof of the American Rottweiler Club’s non profit status and a letter from the Club’s President, Pam Grant. Finally, on September 12th, permission was granted, and with the help of four Rottweiler volunteer transporters, 18 Rottweilers were taken to Texas on September 13th to foster homes. Linda herself took several dogs home to her kennel to await further transport.
In the ensuing weeks, 90 more were transported out of Lamar Dixon. With the help of wonderful volunteers, these dogs were taken to foster homes. These dogs will be held until the middle of October when they will be made available for adoption. Not much time was given to make important decisions in this disaster, but the comfort and care of these dogs needed to come as the first response.
New guidelines are now being worked on at the National level. Permission will be granted to allow families to be rescued with their pets. The HSUS and ASPCA are working on a better system for any future disasters that involve animals and their humans.
For anyone interested in adopting one of these Hurricane Katrina Rottweilers, please go to this website:
I want to thank Linda Stoltz for loving this breed so much, and having enough faith and heart to bring all of us into this and helping to save so many Rottweilers lives. Thank you, Linda.
Contact Me
If you would like to ask me any questions about my products, I would love to hear from you. Please check your return address when you send me email from my web site and try to write me again if you have not heard back from me.
To email: lew@b-naturals.com
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Copyright 2005 Lew Olson, All Rights Reserved

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