Sunday, October 30, 2005

I'm Guilty Of Delusions That We're OK

I thought about making up a cute title for this post along the lines of "Because of Winn-Dixie" but it wouldn't do this story justice. So I stuck with "I'm Guilty" because it's true.

I'm guilty of hiding. I'm guilty of distracting myself. I'm guilty of not wanting to see anymore…

I must take my own advice that I gave to a few tourists from Los Angeles that I met last night. I told them that yes, I was thrilled that they were down here. That we needed to start bussing Americans through this town so that they can see it, smell it, feel it.

Everyone must remember what is still happening down here.

Even though I am going into Lakeview nearly everyday to work on the house, I'm either starting to not notice or am growing accustomed to the carnage. So it should not be a surprise to me that I was blown away when I received a phone call from Kelsey informing me that animal rescues were still taking place. I actually laughed. You've got to be kidding me right? How the hell are these animals still kicking?

Well they are.

I spent the afternoon today out in a Winn-Dixie parking lot in New Orleans East, which can only be described as a mix between a Grateful Dead camping area and a Sudanese refugee camp.

Here since the second week of the aftermath, a hard-core group of pet rescuers from around the country have been and are still operating. These people are not insane animal rightists, they are veterinarians and firemen and random people who felt the pull of Katrina and actually got off their ass to come down here and do something, anything.

Amidst the virtual squalor, flies, hundreds of pigeons and dust, this group of about fifteen people have been living in the heart of hell saving animals who have somehow survived nine weeks of flood and drought. Their dedication is startling.

Sleeping on cots as a ready meal for mosquitos, in tents or in trailers while eating MRE's, trucking in gasoline from over twenty miles away and paying for everything out of their own pockets, these people, all originally strangers to each other, have rescued over 5,000 animals - they stopped counting at 5,000.

And they are desperate for help.

They need people, money and shelter. Unbelieveably, they still are getting calls from owners asking them to rescue their dog or cat or lizard, whatever. And they are doing it.

In the holding areas for the animals which are set-up for feral and wild, or domesticated, they have countless dogs and cats of every stripe and amidst the barking of these caged dogs, Richard Crook, a firefighter from New Hudson, Michigan who has become the de facto leader, walked me through their history and their current challenges.

"Warm bodies. I need warm bodies. We peaked with about 50-60 people camped out here and making hundreds of runs a week, but now we're so few we've basically become just a holding center."

During the time I was out there, they had one group of three head out on a run for a badly hurt dog in Algiers.

"What we need is a facility. A building, anything. Hell, if it has storm damage, we'll even repair it for the owner. Just anything to get these animals out of the elements."

While talking with Richard, several phone calls came through identifying rescues and two young women walked up and volunteered their afternoon for rescues. They asked and they readily received a list of addresses and locations. The amount of work left is staggering.

If you'd like to assist this strong willed but slightly haggered group there are several options and/or needs:

• Cash Donations: They have finally set-up a website and are awaiting 501C3 classification, so it will be tax deductible.

• Warm Bodies: Call Richard direct at 248.939.0832

• A trailer fit for transporting animals.

• A building or facility anywhere in New Orleans.

• Or if you need your animal rescued… call Richard direct at 248.939.0832

Please refrain from calling him simply to express gratitude... this telephone number is only being put out for the items listed above.

These people have shocked me out of my delusional complacency, we are not fine down here. All is not well - but there are these bright pockets where, with no better way to put it and apologizing beforehand for the mellodrama... God sleeps on a cot in a Winn-Dixie parking lot caring for kittens.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last picture is that of a Great Dane, it's hard to tell because of the lighting...I'm looking for a black Great Dane with a white you remember seeing one at Winn Dixie?


7:06 PM, October 30, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dammmit! Things still remain "out of control" as I expected. If only SOMEBODY HAD THEIR SHIT TOGETHER IN THE FIRST PLACE THIS MAY NOT HAVE BEEN SO AWFUL!

Sorry for yelling but I sit here in my beautiful home with my 14 cats and 2 dogs while they lounge around happy and healthy taking up every chair and couch in my house (yes I am crouched down typing right now for lack of seating arrangements) feeling like crap!

The stories that are still surfacing have me freaking out to the point where Im gonna take a leave of abscence from my Job and get back there PRONTO!

Where the HELL are the BIG MONEY ANIMAL RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS? Probably ran off with their bags of cash to spend it on their own agendas after the big HURRICANE CASH IN!

I cannot believe that they would just turn tail and bugger off so fast! Now this may all be very easy for me to say and I'm spazzing for nothing but please someone enlighten me as I am not there and I am well aware of the strange politics that went on while I WAS there but honestly this whole thing just SUCKS!

THANK GOD for SMALL rescue groups who have always and will continue to have the BALLS to go the distance no matter what!

Thanks for the contact numbers Troy, as always I can always count on this blog to rev my engines!

7:45 PM, October 30, 2005  
Anonymous Kelsey said...

There was no Great Dane at the Winn Dixie when I left at 5pm this evening. I'm sorry.

Those people amaze me. There are volunteers from Georgia to Alaska. They are rescuing day and night. 3 cats were brought in at midnight last night. A @12 year old dalmatian, who aside from being old, was in ok shape. She was found at a naval base, but hadn't been there the day before. Nobody knew where she came from. There are more pit bulls than anything else, however, there were NONE that were obviously aggressive. I watered, fed and walked all of the dogs that were in the 'Handle with Care' area. Most appeared aggressive, but none were--They were just SCARED. If there were more volunteers to help handle all of these animals, they would regain their social skills. Karen Pauli, who cares for all of the cats, does so almost single handedly. She is truly remarkable!! That is her in the picture with me holding the kittens.
In addition to the rescue animals, some residents who have returned are coming by to see if one of the volunteer vets will look at their pets. There are FEW vets. Maria, the vet I did rescues with on the boat with the Oregon National Guard, came back to N.O. yesterday and today to 'be the vet'. Louisa, the vet from Scotland, had to leave.

Please do all y'all can to get the word out that THERE IS STILL ANIMAL RESCUE GOING ON.


9:34 PM, October 30, 2005  
Anonymous Kelsey said...

I looked at the picture again. The dog in the picture is a weimaraner.

9:37 PM, October 30, 2005  
Anonymous Binary Blonde said...

THANK YOU for posting this! I have been trying to tell people.. trying to get them to understand that the rescue efforts are still NOT over!

I am a student vet tech and am flying over, in less than 24 hours, to volunteer for a week in Louisiana. I have a friend there now (we both live in So. Cal.), at Winn Dixie, she called me today to tell me that they have one lady who is taking care of all 20+ cats and she's been doing it for almost 3 straight weeks, by herself.

They are in desperate need for volunteers, especially vet techs and LA state licensed vets! If money is an issue, ask your friends and family. I emailed everyone I knew and raised most of my travel costs to go there!

This is just to let you know that if you have the desire to go help over there, people will support you. You just gotta get up and do it!

Thank you so much for posting this!

2:19 AM, October 31, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the person who wanted to know where the big animal rescue groups are:

Hi. Have you done any research at all on the big animal groups? You won't find a big animal group who hasn't already spend significant time and resources on the ground in LA or MS or both. HSUS and ASPCA and others jointly set up a huge shelter just south of Baton Rouge. I know, I was there two weeks scooping poop, being dragged by pit bulls, and rescuing animals.

So where are the big animal groups now? **Louisiana** state and local officials shut them down. Yup. Shut them down for intake of newly rescued animals on 9/30, shut them down and had every last dog, cat, ferret and turtle shipped out by 10/12. Thanks, Louisiana government. Just last week, Louisiana government *rescinded* the order allowing out-of-state vets to practice in Louisiana. Louisiana has done everything in its power to stop the official rescue efforts and cripple what's left. The LA state vet, governor, and NOLA mayor not only could not care less about animal rescue, they've been openly hostile and obstructionist. NOPD have arrested rescuers. When I was doing rescue, most NOLA residents encouraged and thanked me, but a few told me to get the hell out of their city.

Please do some research before mouthing off about anybody or any organization. Hundreds if not thousands of folks spent their money, their vacation, and every scrap of energy they had to save animals. And it breaks our heart that no one else seems to care.

6:11 PM, October 31, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My niece was down there with the vet she works for and another worker and she said they were told that he could not do anything since he was not a licensed vet in LA. Since they would not allow him to to anything they came home.

7:31 PM, October 31, 2005  
Anonymous Kelsey said...

It's not just out of state vets, because the vet I work with got harrassed as well. BUT, I never got hassled-at least not outside of St. Bernard Parish. There is a way of dealing with Louisiana politics, but you need to know what game you're playing. All states have their political games; this was our turn to be on national t.v.. The point is, the animals don't care who rescues them or how, just do it. There are rescue groups there, quietly doing their thing, and not rousing anybody's ire. And they've been there for almost 2 months.
In case it escaped notice, Rita did significant damage and there are hundreds of animals, large and small, roaming in Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes. It's not on CNN or FOX, but local shelters are getting reports as residents are slowly being allowed back to their homes. Many people won't go home because there's nothing there. WHY ARE THERE NO NATIONAL, WELL-FUNDED GROUPS RESCUING IN SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA??? DO THEY NEED THE MEDIA COVERAGE TO BE EFFECTIVE???

That is my rant for the day. If Louisiana has shot itself in the foot by hasseling out of state rescue groups, then they should have to answer for it. On election day, I plan to vote these assholes out, but until then those unpublished animals need help.

There is a meeting with FEMA and other groups about the 'animal issue' Wednesday at 1pm at the Holidome in Lafayette. Be there and, hopefully, be heard. I plan to go as does the director of ARFLA.

10:22 PM, October 31, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Settle down! settle down!

I WAS THERE TOO! I relinquished my holidays (to the tune of $1,800 Canadian) Left my family and travelled from the West Coast of Canada to help out at Lamar-Dixon and doing rescue the week Rita blew through! Only to have many of our members turned away because they were not licensed to practice in the state of Louisiana.

If you had read my post before getting angry about it..I simply asked where the big rescue groups were now! I am sorry for your confusion and I don't blame you. Your post reminds me of the exact one that I wrote to which you found such offense.

I understand your frustration and anger as I can relate to it. I realize that you may have misunderstood my meaning...this often happens in these forums as the true intent of written word can often be misinterepted.

I am as frustrated as everyone else is. I have switched shifts and relinqished another block of my holidays to come back and help again...I hope to be there within the next 4 to 5 days.

Please understand that I was witness to so much internal fighting and politics while I was there and have seen so many people take "advantage" of this disaster with what I believe to line their own pockets and serve their own agendas.

Accept my apologies anyone who was offended by my comments. I am here to help not create more petty disagrements...especially on this blog which in my opinion serves a greater purpose and would be, in my opinion, tarnished by petty diatribe and bickering. Sorry Troy.

11:27 PM, October 31, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My apologies. Your first post sounded as if you had not researched the issue. I understand your frustration and agree that it seems the large animal welfare groups should be able to do more. Thank you for your hard work and for going back to help.

Troy - thank you so much for posting this information on your blog. If you possibly can, please try to get word out to NOLA pet owners that if there is any way possible, they need to come home *themselves*, *now*, and look for their pets. Some ARE still alive in houses, eating birds and bugs and drinking floodwater. Many are roaming the streets but staying close to home. It's not too late for many of these pets, and their best chance is if their own person comes back to get them. I know it's hard for many to come back to NO right now, but their animals need them. Thanks again for posting this story.

9:27 AM, November 01, 2005  
Blogger WillowLu said...


About Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes,
I have regularly written to CNN, et al about the ongoing and VERY CURRENT rescue efforts throughout the state.

Click here for a good resource for media addresses for those wishing to shoot off a few press release type emails about Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes

I would also encourage rescuers to video document where possible. The internet is a powerful tool and a little freelance journalism might go a long way (true or not, Troy?).

The thing is Louisiana HAS shot itself in the foot by hassling out of state rescue groups. Not the whole state of LA, however. As you know, it's STILL Asst. State Vet Martha Littlefield and the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine (LBVM) doing everything possible to ignore the problem.

Initially, they tried to keep animals within state lines at overcrowded facilities that couldn't properly care for them (remember the 1st T. Boone Picken's airlift stand off that paved the way for out-of-state shelter fostering?), then they tried to squash the efforts of rescue orgs by disseminating paranoid propaganda about "rogue" rescuers unlawfully entering people's homes, they outlawed out-of-state vets on October 26, and they have done everything short of actually encouraging the LA SPCA to have out-of-town rescuers arrested.

But who will do the job? The LA SPCA? Their facility at Algiers is already over a month behind their grand opening schedule. The local parish animal control "officials?" These people have NO resources. Why would it be "business as usual" with them when no one else in the area is back on their feet? (St. Bernard Parish residents report being turned away by Ceily Trog & the ghost of an animal control unit for lack of resources.)

It is simply illogical that the LA State Vet and the LBVM continue impeding animal rescue efforts in their own state. Illogical, that is, unless their priority is NOT the well-being of these pets.


LA State Vet Dr. Maxwell Lea
Ph: 225-925-3980 Fax: 225-925-4103

Asst. LA State Vet Dr. Martha Littlefield
Ph: 225-933-8121 Fax: 225-237-5555


10:11 AM, November 01, 2005  
Blogger WillowLu said...

To read a good article about the CURRENT pet rescue situation:

click here

However, their work may be coming to a close, not because the job is done but because of politics.

The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LASPCA) has taken control. Recently one OBAH team in New Orleans' Ninth Ward was surrounded by police and told they could not go into the district as the LASPCA said animal rescue was now "their gig," Majeskie said.

"They (police) said sorry about the politics," she said.

There are also disturbing images and stories coming out of New Orleans as well in regard to animal rescue operations, she said.

In fact, it appears rescue may no longer be the proper word.

A St. Bernard Parish deputy was caught on videos by a Dallas television crew shooting a dog from the back of a pickup. The deputy nonchalantly told the news crew the dog would not have survived anyway, she said.

"We're still pulling animals out of homes seven weeks later. They're still alive," she said.

Also, dogs were found executed in three schools in that parish, she said.

11:03 AM, November 01, 2005  
Blogger TAG said...

Not to stir this up any more, but... as I discussed with Richard Crook of Winn-Dixie the other day... PETA (among other national groups) have never set foot in this state in any organized manner AND part of the issue is that some out of state animal rescuers are not respecting PEOPLE and their property, as in kicking down doors while families are having dinner.

This is a catastrophic situation and we must all try to manage chaos. As we've seen, a lack of law and control only leads to more chaos.

This is NOT a local issue. The same damn thing WILL happen in LA or San Francisco when the big earthquake comes.


Even Richard from Winn-Dixe had to kick some people out of his rescue efforts.

Also someone tell Pam Anderson that she is a tool for continuing to support PETA... she should become the national spokeperson for St. Mary's Parish Humane Society or Grass Roots Rescue.

The good thing IS that many pets HAVE been rescued. Not enough... but many.

Now I'm going to work on my Halloween post... Cheers and love to all.


1:45 PM, November 01, 2005  
Anonymous ames said...

The phone number for Richard is a Detroit-area phone number...

So - Richard is from Michigan?

Says a lot, too -- good job & thanks...

6:38 PM, November 03, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is just like Richard Crook to take the credit for a rescue that he did not start in the first place. Disaster Response Animal Rescue started and still is rescuing these animals--I guess he wants his piece of the pie. Some people can't just help to help--they need to stroke their egos and profit from these situations--so sad......

6:09 AM, November 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard may not have started it but he has been there since the beginning and in fact has the support of DRAR. Have you met him? I would find it hard to believe if you had. I have and he is wonderfully. And for anyone to say he is just trying to line his own pockets doesn't know what the hell they are talking about.

8:38 AM, November 04, 2005  
Blogger TAG said...

I have met Richard and am a damn good judge of people. This guy is working his ass off and IS a good, no-nonsense leader.

I would drink beer with him anytime on my tab.

1:44 PM, November 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...?troy, is it? ...I've been reading your blog off and on since way back when you first talked about animal rescue after katrina and google found your entry, and I'm not even sure of your first name... sad, ain't it?

But I'm going to ask a favor of you and / or Kelsey anyway. I'm one of the people who can't come there to help, so I donate what I can and try to give info to other people who need it...

and I'm suspicious by nature, the whole long-distance info thing makes it hard to know who is and who isn't a real person who is really helping the animal efforts down there, and who _really_ has need. (There are rumors of some people who go down to 'rescue' and spend most of their time out partying-- _those_ people don't need the little I can donate.)

Anyway, strange as it may seem, I fully trust you and Kelsey. You guys were there and mentioning the issue and getting scratched up by cats _way_ before most of the other rescue information sources ever showed up, and way before any potential scammers got their act together.

So the favor is, if you guys could just mention periodically who is and who isn't down there working with animals as far as you know, it'd be really helpful to me.

As an instance, I knew by hearsay that Richard was hanging in at Winn Dixie, and I _assumed_ that grass roots was okay because of the apparent association with him, but it's good to know that he's a good one, and that grass roots _is_ the way to get $ to him, and good to have an URL that I can be sure is the _right_ URL and not some similar-sounding url somebody set up to catch the unwary.

Um. Either of you know Marilyn McGee, by any chance? Or maybe Richard does? Would you say she's a good one, too?

...and, Kelsey-- just 'cause I get the chance to say it.... you're a hero to me. Thank you.

12:54 PM, November 06, 2005  
Blogger Marilyn said...

Hi I'm Marilyn McGee. I know Rich, Kelsey and countless other rescuers that are here or have been here. They are a bunch of great people. We're lucky to have them. I live here . Kelsey recently helped me out with getting a puppy vetted with Dr. White. Lately I have been trapping with Jane Garrison ARNO until the no trapping order went into place. We are feeding in place and awaiting the order to begin trapping again.

I have worked with people from Winn Dixie, Arkansans for Animals, ARNO, and individually.

The fact that these dedicated people have stayed for so long is amazing. There are still many many animals needing rescue.

My hat goes off to ALL the animal rescuers that have given up a part of their lives for our animals.

Nice to meet you.

3:45 PM, December 14, 2005  

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