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Responding to the Destruction of Katrina: Emails from the front

FOR RELEASE: Sept. 16, 2005 from Catherine Reiss

I'll give you a little update on what we have been doing these past two days. Kate and I are working at the veterinary college's hurricane ward (ward 1) in the mornings when the big treatments are needed. Then, when all of those animals are taken care of, we have been heading over to help Drs. Steffey, Krotscheck, and Brewer at the Parker Colosseum. They have been working to microchip, vaccinate (Rabies, distemper, and intranasal Bordetella for those of you who are interested), deworm, and deflea all of the currently unowned dogs and cats at the shelter. They've set up an assembly line system where several of the volunteers go out and find the animal and its paperwork and bring it to their station. Then, in addition to the vaccines and parasite control, the animal gets put into a database with its new microchip number. Also, everyone gets a "mug shot" next to a white board with its number on it. It is quite a production to watch and I don't think the animals know what has hit them; they all go away with a slightly dazed look and the taste of banana in their mouths. And wow can Dr. Brewer wrestle cats!!

We've also scanned every animal before giving them their microchip, and yesterday we found two dogs with Avid chips! It felt like winning the lottery. As I assured one of the dogs, a sweet yellow lab cross, that means there is someone out there who loves him, someone who can come and find him. With the others you can only scratch their ears and hope. I've been wondering how the owners of these unclaimed animals are feeling. The panic of not knowing and the fear of the worst.

Ok, moving on from that depressing note, here is a nice story. We have met so many other wonderful volunteers down here. Veterinarians, technicians, shelter workers, and so many others who were watching from their homes across the country and had to come and help. So many individual people who left family, jobs, and homes to pitch in. Many of these people are here because of the efforts of their hospitals or communities to send them and because other people stayed behind to fill in for them. The amount of support and caring that has brought this many people here is heartening.

Well, I need to get back to the ward for two o'clock treatments (sounds like home, eh?). I'll try to update all of you again soon.

-Catherine