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Coming Home to Dead and Dying Animals…

By Nancy Cleveland

FROM INSIDE THE CITY: The citizens of New Orleans are finally being let back into their homes today, and thousands of their pets may still be clinging to life inside the city after nearly three weeks without their owners. Tens of thousands more pets have already died. The city is littered with corpses of dead animals on the streets and inside shuttered apartments and homes, but thousands more are still alive and waiting desperate for their owners to return and save them. Dogs and cats sit on front porches or in shattered doorways, defending their homes, and waiting.

Please, if you are a pet owner and can’t come yourself, get a friend, a neighbor, call the SPCA or Humane Society or Pet Rescue to go find them, but the rescue groups are overwhelmed already by the huge number of animals, so if at all possible go yourself or get a friend to go in and get your pets.

Everyone who comes into the city needs to bring DRY AND WET PET FOOD AND WATER and drop it off for the thousands of pets starving in the city. Please, even if it’s not YOUR pet, help try to save it, bring food and water you can LEAVE OUTSIDE as well as food and water for your pets.

The military and police are being ordered by their commanders NOT to touch any animals they find, and no one is taking your pets out of your house except animal rescue groups or you or your friends.

What to take: MOIST AND DRY PET FOOD and LOTS of FRESH WATER and several large towels and a pet carrier. DON’T feed your pet too much immediately, just give it water first and then a handful of food if its been starving, until its stomach can handle food again, a few hours for that.

DO NOT let your children go into your house first. They may find their cherished pet dead or dying.

If your pet is in bad shape, lying down, unable to move, don’t give it up for dead. Give it water, immediately, and try to cool it down by putting water on it. Wrap a cat or dog in a wet towel and try to get it to an animal hospital as soon as possible.

Many animals can be saved by intravenous fluid administration, giving them water, and keeping them cool.

If your animals are covered by muck or tar, wash them in clean water, but get them to a vet as soon as possible.

Don’t give up immediately if you don’t find your pet inside. If a window was broken or a door opened your pet may have escaped outside and may be in the yard or nearby. Don’t give up until you have looked and called out extensively.

If you think your pet may have escaped and be nearby, leave water and food for it outside, under a sheltered roof if possible so it doesn’t get wet and spoil if it rains. Leave a note asking your neighbors or rescue groups to look for it, You can spray paint the information on your home if you want it to be visible. Make sure you put a DATE on your note so people looking know how recent the information is.

Only yesterday an animal rescuer encountered a homeowner who had returned to look for his cat in an area still covered with mud and debris. Once he managed to get his door open he found the water had gone almost to his ceiling and the cat food he’d left on the kitchen counter was green with mold and half buried under the rotting mildew covered couch in the living room. There was no sign of the cat anywhere inside, just a slimy layer of muck on everything. A window had been broken, possibly by army units searching for trapped bodies, and he hoped the cat had escaped outside.

He searched the yard, calling for his cat, and then he heard a meow. Brownie was hiding behind a fallen tree, and after running away three times. He was finally lured to the rescuer’s pet carrier by the owner with a can of fresh cat food. Brownie is in Baton Rouge now, reunited with his family in a hotel. “Its all my wife asked about, her cat,” he said. “We knew the house was gone and everything in it, but at least we have Brownie.”

Cats are shy, and won’t come when called initially, but keep on trying, and you may find they’re still there, hiding, waiting and hoping to hear your voice. As the owner said, “its no surprise how upset he is after all he’s been through.” His dogs were missing, though, from the back yard where he’d left them, and aside from a few dogprints in the mud, there was no sign of them. The rescue worker left a bag of food and a bowl of water for the dogs if they return.

Keep coming back to look for him or her as often as you can. If you find a pet of a neighbor and can take it, write a note on their door with indelible marker to let them know you have their pet and how to get in touch with you.

Thousands of pets have been taken to the SPCA shelter in Gonzales, and others are in other shelters across the area. Most pets have not been rescued though, so go first to your home and try to find them there. Very very few animals have been picked up by rescue groups compared to the over 200,000 estimated to still be in the city so its more likely your animal is still in your home or nearby. Even if you can’t help your own pet, try to save your neighbor’s if you can. If you can’t take your pet with you, go back to your home anyhow. Go back and leave them food and water, and try to arrange for a place that can take them. has more than 100,000 postings from people who have offered to open their homes to PEOPLE AND PETS who are in need of temporary housing. If you are in a hotel and can’t have a pet with you, this website lists hundreds of people who will care for your pet for you, until you can.

Rescue groups are doing food drops all across the city but again can only reach a tiny portion of the neighborhoods where pets are starving. Anyone wanting to come into the city and help distribute food to pets can come to the parking lot at Chef Menteur and Louisa, right off I-10 at the Lousia exit where animal rescue groups are staging food and water drops from. Please bring food and water and bowls to put it in and bring in extra gasoline if you can as the rescuers are running out and don’t want to have to leave the city to gas up.

MuttShack Animal Rescue is in New Orleans, evacuating animals from their homes. “Many of these animals are being found dead… but some miraculously are still clinging on to life. Where animals seem to be in good shape, rescuers leave food for them and mark the home for in-home sheltering. Where they look sick or the conditions of the home look unsafe, they bring them in to a triage center where we stabilize them and move them out to Gonzales.” says Amanda St. John.

We need air-conditioned trucks to transport animals for one hour trips to Gonzales and other shelters. Please we need your donations now at so that we can rent these trucks and move animals to where they can get proper emergency care.” MuttShack animal rescuers have been discovering and rescuing animals all over the city in homes and on the street since the hurricane. Now with the possibility of Hurricane Rita coming our way, we need to evacuate them fast”. Says St. John.

To help this rescue please send donations to: