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Pets aren’t forgotten in relief effort

Although rescuers and shelters cater first to saving andpreserving human life, pets and farm animals are still in desperateneed of attention in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Pets are considered family to some and are often in the foremostthoughts of people who have evacuated their homes due to the storm.Area veterinary clinics and the local animal rescue league areoffering assistance where they can.

Brookhaven Animal Rescue League spokeswoman Beth Adcock said theleague didn’t take in any animals during the storm, but did helpprovide cat and dog food to area veterinary clinics to help withtheir overload of animals.

Other agencies were also doing what they could to see thatanimals were well cared for.

“I got a call from FEMA,” said Adcock. “It made us feel goodthat they hadn’t forgotten about us.”

A FEMA representative visited the BARL pens Thursday checking tomake sure the animals were ok, said Adcock.

Adcock said that as of Thursday the Mississippi Animal RescueLeague in Jackson had plenty of room and could house animals at anemergency shelter at the Mississippi Coliseum Fairgrounds in barnNo. 8.

Aileene Maldonado, programs manager for MARL, said she wascalled by FEMA at 6:30 a.m. last Sunday to go ahead and set up anemergency shelter for the state.

Maldonado said there is no charge for the shelter, whether thepet’s stay is temporary or permanent.

If anyone needs to give up their pets permanently, Maldonadosaid, MARL, located at 4395 South Drive in Jackson, will take them.MARL does not euthanize its animals, she said. Humane societiesacross the United States are ready to take pets that are displacedbecause of the storm, she said.

Dr. Greg Howell, of Animal Medical Center in Brookhaven, said hewas been working with State Veterinarian Dr. Jim Watson incoordinating efforts with FEMA.

Howell said that provisions have been made for abandoned animalsto be housed and transported to Jackson. He said shelters there arecoordinating with FEMA to take care of the animals.

Howell said needs are changing daily. Usually during evacuationsyou can get by for two to three days, he said. Now, due to theescalating gas prices and numbers of evacuees, things are changingdaily.

“We’ve seen pets die,” he said, due to the stress and heat ofpets being evacuated with families.

“One moment I’m a vet, the next I’m a counselor,” said Howell.”This clinic has never experienced anything such as this.”

On Friday, Howell said they had approximately 150 to 160 petshoused at his facilities, mostly small animals. He said he hasreceived very little requests for shelter for large animals andlivestock.

“We’re providing what we can,” he said.

Tuesday morning Howell said the numbers of pets at his clinicare beginning to decline with people returning to their homes nearthe Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Maldonado invited anyone who wished to volunteer or donate foodor money, to do so in their local communities or to MARL at 4395South Drive, Jackson MS 39209.