a few days ago i had my first shift at the state fairgrounds, helping to take care of animals who had been caught up in hurricane katrina. here’s a brief explanation of their situation:
We received 80 cats and 12 dogs today from Louisiana and Mississippi as part of our relief efforts to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina. All of the animals that arrived today were at two separate shelters that were nearly devastated by the storm. The shelters were overrun by animals and had no running water or electricity. The animals brought here had been stranded in the shelter since before the storm and the shelter workers who had lost their homes were working day and night caring for them.
in addition to those animals, we also have evacuees staying at the state fairgrounds (in a youth building), some of whom were able to evacuate with their animals… so we have about a dozen dogs and one kitty who were already there before this new bunch of arrivals.
when i showed up for my shift, i was surprised to learn that all 12 dogs had already moved from the fairgrounds to the shelter, along with some of the cats. so, my job consisted of walking dogs whose people were staying nearby, and then when that was through, i went back to pet approximately 40-50 adorable cats. such a tough job. (after that shift was over, i went to the humane society for my normal dog-walking shift. i imagine i walked some LA and MS dogs, although i’m not sure which ones they were.)
one of the "dogs with a guardian" was actually a rescue. while trying to get out of new orleans, some people found her chained to a bridge, untied her, and brought her along with them. she is a burly black & white pit bull named (of course) katrina. she’s not too fond of most dogs, but she loooves people, and she is a total sweetheart.
after walking katrina and a handful of her fellow evacuees, i still had plenty of time left on my shift, so i asked if i could go back and peek at the cats. i got an enthusiastic, "of course!" and off i went. all i can say is: kitties! kitties! kitties!
the vast majority of the ones still at the fairgrounds were relatively young (a bunch were 1-3 years old, with a few in the 5-10 year range, and a few kittens as well), which leads me to believe that older cats might have been moved more quickly into less "strange" conditions. there were rows and rows of cats in their kennels or crates, and every one had a bed and a litter box and food and water, and almost every single one was napping in that adorable contented kitty way of theirs. but as i walked up and down the rows, saying hello, every single cat meowed at me and every single one wanted to be petted. it was awesome.
i stopped and talked to every cat. one of my favorite kennels had four teeny kittens in it–they couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 weeks old. they were completely oblivious to their odd situation; they were just happy to have each other and happy to have a person to play with. an adorable 1-year-old orange tabby boy was the most affectionate of all of them; he threw himself at his kennel door and rolled around, sticking all four of his legs out to touch me. i know it’s not much, but it felt so good to be able to give them some love. i’m looking forward to visiting them again next week.