Katrina's Animal Rescue
Ask the Rescuers: Rescuing the Animals

Rescuing the Animals

Jane Garrison
Search and Rescue Professional and Founder of Animal Rescue New Orleans

I personally rescued birds, chinchillas, turtles, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and even fish. Other people have rescued horses, pigs, cows, snakes, and ducks. No animals were left behind regardless of how small or large.

Dave Pauli
Regional Director for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

If people had them in there homes, they were rescued. This included rabbits, birds — from parakeets to macaws, monitor lizards, snakes, rodents — from rats to hamsters, fish, turtles, and unusual animals like sugar gliders. At one point we had had about 170 exotic or unusual animals at the Lamar-Dixon rescue center. The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine also did a great job of rescuing horses which were housed at Lamar-Dixon.

Question: Can a rescued animal be given all it can drink and eat at once, or is a more gradual approach better?

Dr. Debra Campbell
Veterinarian, Veterinary Medical Assistant Teams (VMAT)

I worked at a shelter where there was a hospital and an intensive care unit. If the animal was stable, I allowed it to drink, but oftentimes the animals were in shock and were dying when they were presented to me. Typically, intravenous fluids were started, and a medical workup was set in place.

Question: How many animals have been rescued? How many are still out in the streets, and are they receiving care?

Jane Garrison
Search and Rescue Professional and Founder of Animal Rescue New Orleans

An estimated 9,000 animals have been rescued by all organizations combined. That is a small number when you consider that 250,000 animals were left trapped in the city and surrounding areas. There are still thousands of animals on the streets who need our help. Sadly, because most of the city is uninhabitable, there is not even trash being generated for these animals to look through for food. We are all these animals have. Each day our food and water teams, rescue teams, and trapping teams comb the city looking for hungry, displaced animals. We put food and water all over the area in an attempt to keep these animals alive until we are able to rescue them. We rescue between 30 and 40 animals each day and send them to Tylertown, Mississippi, where they are held in a temporary shelter operated by Best Friends Animal Society.

Dave Pauli
Regional Director for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

We will never know the total number of animals rescued since there were so many groups and individuals in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, and other areas providing assistance. The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) estimates that 8,500 animals were rescued in New Orleans. However, no one has received numbers from all the groups involved and combined them. There are still many animals out there, and more are rescued daily.

Question: Why have so many agencies, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), left when there are thousands of animals left to rescue?

Dave Pauli
Regional Director for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

Many agencies have discontinued field rescue teams because they have concluded that the event has changed from a national rescue event to a local recovery event. The HSUS, however, is not one of them. We have not left the region. We closed the rescue center we helped run at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center because the state determined it was no longer needed and gave us an exit strategy. The Lamar-Dixon effort was just a small part of HSUS’s response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. On any given day, as many as 50 HSUS staffers or contractors are actively working on Katrina issues as part of field-sponsored teams or reunion and call center teams. That can hardly be considered “pulling out,” as it may well be the largest single-agency workforce still working on Katrina animal issues. We are also still providing financial, physical, and resource support to both the Louisiana SPCA and several of the rescue groups, including Animal Rescue New Orleans.

Our current humane animal capture team will be in the Gulf Coast until at least December 20. This team is lead by Global Wildlife Resources veterinarian Mark Johnson and highly qualified biologists and animal control officers. They provide equipment support, training, and logistical help to groups that wish to participate. This team will help ensure that everything will be done to get the remaining displaced animals out of harm’s way.

Question: Are you still in New Orleans and if so, for how much longer? How do you plan to get the word out if volunteers, fosters, etc. are still needed?

Jane Garrison
Search and Rescue Professional and Founder of Animal Rescue New Orleans

Animal Rescue New Orleans plans to be in New Orleans and the surrounding devastated counties for at least six more weeks. At the end of the year we will assess the situation and determine if the local agencies are able to handle the amount of animals that need help at that time. As far as getting the word out for volunteers, we send out alerts and put postings on our Web site. However, we never have enough volunteers, so please come help!

Dave Pauli
Regional Director for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

Question: What animals did you rescue besides cats and dogs?

I personally rescued birds, chinchillas, turtles, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and even fish. Other people have rescued horses, pigs, cows, snakes, and ducks. No animals were left behind regardless of how small or large.

If people had them in there homes, they were rescued. This included rabbits, birds — from parakeets to macaws, monitor lizards, snakes, rodents — from rats to hamsters, fish, turtles, and unusual animals like sugar gliders. At one point we had had about 170 exotic or unusual animals at the Lamar-Dixon rescue center. The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine also did a great job of rescuing horses which were housed at Lamar-Dixon.

Question: Can a rescued animal be given all it can drink and eat at once, or is a more gradual approach better?

I worked at a shelter where there was a hospital and an intensive care unit. If the animal was stable, I allowed it to drink, but oftentimes the animals were in shock and were dying when they were presented to me. Typically, intravenous fluids were started, and a medical workup was set in place.

Question: How many animals have been rescued? How many are still out in the streets, and are they receiving care?

An estimated 9,000 animals have been rescued by all organizations combined. That is a small number when you consider that 250,000 animals were left trapped in the city and surrounding areas. There are still thousands of animals on the streets who need our help. Sadly, because most of the city is uninhabitable, there is not even trash being generated for these animals to look through for food. We are all these animals have. Each day our food and water teams, rescue teams, and trapping teams comb the city looking for hungry, displaced animals. We put food and water all over the area in an attempt to keep these animals alive until we are able to rescue them. We rescue between 30 and 40 animals each day and send them to Tylertown, Mississippi, where they are held in a temporary shelter operated by Best Friends Animal Society. Animal Rescue New Orleans has rescu

We will never know the total number of animals rescued since there were so many groups and individuals in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, and other areas providing assistance. The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) estimates that 8,500 animals were rescued in New Orleans. However, no one has received numbers from all the groups involved and combined them. There are still many animals out there, and more are rescued daily.


Question: Why have so many agencies, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), left when there are thousands of animals left to rescue?

Many agencies have discontinued field rescue teams because they have concluded that the event has changed from a national rescue event to a local recovery event. The HSUS, however, is not one of them. We have not left the region. We closed the rescue center we helped run at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center because the state determined it was no longer needed and gave us an exit strategy. The Lamar-Dixon effort was just a small part of HSUS’s response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. On any given day, as many as 50 HSUS staffers or contractors are actively working on Katrina issues as part of field-sponsored teams or reunion and call center teams. That can hardly be considered “pulling out,” as it may well be the largest single-agency workforce still working on Katrina animal issues. We are also still providing financial, physical, and resource support to both the Louisiana SPCA and several of the rescue groups, including Animal Rescue New Orleans.

Our current humane animal capture team will be in the Gulf Coast until at least December 20. This team is lead by Global Wildlife Resources veterinarian Mark Johnson and highly qualified biologists and animal control officers. They provide equipment support, training, and logistical help to groups that wish to participate. This team will help ensure that everything will be done to get the remaining displaced animals out of harm’s way.

Question: Are you still in New Orleans and if so, for how much longer? How do you plan to get the word out if volunteers, fosters, etc. are still needed?

Animal Rescue New Orleans plans to be in New Orleans and the surrounding devastated counties for at least six more weeks. At the end of the year we will assess the situation and determine if the local agencies are able to handle the amount of animals that need help at that time. As far as getting the word out for volunteers, we send out alerts and put postings on our Web site. However, we never have enough volunteers, so please come help!

I served as Incident Commander at Lamar-Dixon from September 7 to 21, and then again from September 26 to October 4. In mid-November I returned to New Orleans for two weeks. I am currently putting together additional support packages including radio telemetry, GPS, and other backup technologies for the animal capture team to use. During much of October I was in Montana, working daily on organizing trapping teams as well as helping with reunions and other logistical issues.

Question: Where did you live while you were rescuing? How much time did you spend in New Orleans?

Jane Garrison
Search and Rescue Professional and Founder of Animal Rescue New Orleans

I arrived in New Orleans on the day rescuers were allowed in the city. For the first three weeks, I slept in the front seat of my car. I slept about two hours each night due to the time spent caring for animals and planning for the next day of rescuing. In addition, it was very difficult to block the images of animals trapped on roofs and on porches long enough to actually get sleep. By the time I fell asleep, the front seat of my car was perfect! The fourth week into rescuing, I “upgraded” into a small tent, which was fantastic! My last week was “luxury” living conditions, since I was able to sleep on a small bed in an RV. I remained in New Orleans for six weeks after the hurricane and have returned since that time to assess the situation and help coordinate the Animal Rescue New Orleans volunteers.

Dave Pauli
Regional Director for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

When I arrived at Lamar-Dixon, on the first two nights, I slept on the roof of an animal control vehicle. For the next 12 days I did not sleep much — never getting more than two to three hours of sleep a night. I slept in chairs, on a couch in a trailer, and once on a golf cart. When the huge FEMA air-conditioned tent was set up, I went in there one night and I slept for five hours straight. I never felt so good about getting a few hours of sleep.

Dr. Debra Campbell
Veterinarian, Veterinary Medical Assistant Teams (VMAT)

I lived in the auditorium of the Louisiana School for the Deaf during my deployment.

  • Brandon

    I thnk that we you guys should rescue some parakeets so many people like them and so do i but i think you guys should because the comunnite would have so much more money if u think about it…

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