For days we heard on the news about the devastating effects wrought on New Orleans and the Louisiana coast by Hurricane Katrina. Being a former veterinarian I was particularly sensitive to the horror stories I heard about the thousands of displaced pets. Even though I was no longer in practice something in my gut would not let me rest. I felt compelled to do something.
I remember sitting around the dinner table that night and discussing it with my family. I thought they’d think I was crazy to want to travel hundreds of miles by myself to an area torn asunder by the storm, especially since there was mention of a possible second storm growing out at sea. To my surprise they both got behind the idea with enthusiasm.
We’d heard that supplies were much needed and since I’d be driving a van, I’d have plenty of room. The next day Ann and Amber got on the phone and started calling vet clinic, grooming parlors and pet stores. We were blown away at how generous everyone was. I called and talked to my minister about the trip and how I didn’t quite know how we’d pay for such a out of the blue expedition. He offered $500 to be drawn from the church’s emergency fund to bankroll the expedition, so within 36 hours I was on my way.
As I drove south towards Louisiana I started picking up news bulletins that indeed a second vicious storm was brewing off the the coast and was headed towards the same area I was driving to. Suddenly, this volunteering idea seemed like a really bad one. After all, I had a wife and child to take care of. What would happen to them if something happened to me? Still, I continued to drive. I had a van full of medical supplies, pet food, blankets and other supplies. People gave these supplies to me to deliver. They were counting on me. I couldn’t let them down. Beside what kind of example would I be setting for my daughter if I turned back now?
So, I drove all night finally arriving in New Orleans the next day. Through the devastation I made my way to a central location I’d heard about where lost animals of every kind were to brought. Besides hundreds of dogs and cats, there were also horses, cattle, sheep, even chickens and ducks. It looked like a loading station for Noah’s ark. I delivered my supplies and was thanked profusely by the other volunteers for them. I offered my help and was told that they were in need for some additional volunteers to escort a large contingency of animals north of the city to a farm where I temporary rescue center was being established as the tedious job of reconnecting the lost pets with their owners went underway. I jumped on board.