Monday, September 29, 2008

Farewell at dawn

Submitted by EARS Regional Director Stacey Harris

Yesterday morning we started off at 5 a.m. -- yes, I said 5 a.m.! Atlanta Humane Society had pulled a huge transport bus, two cargo vans and an animal transport van in the night before and wanted to start loading animals at 6 a.m. I think we all thought this would be at least a half-day process, but we were ready!!! We got the dogs fed, walked, loaded and on the road by 9 a.m.

We also discovered that some of our volunteers have some pretty amazing puzzle-making skills. It was truly amazing how many dogs we were able to fit into those cargo vans. And now they are on their way to find new adoptive homes.

We are now down to 89 animals at the temporary shelter, which seems like a walk in the park. We have a pit bull rescue group coming tomorrow to take all the pits -- which of course makes me very happy since I am the pit lover.

Janell regretfully left behind Miss Fang today. But, no worries, Theresa has taken over her care, and we are all trying to find a better name for her!

Strange bedfellows

Sumbitted by EARS volunteer Roxanne Quinlan of Austin, Texas (pictured below with Ugly Betty)

We had a heartwarming amount of return to owners on Saturday! Not as many as we wanted, but more than we have seen before. The guinea pigs were whistling while they went home. A Chow Chow mix who was a "problem child" also went home. Any time you went near his run, he would warn you off. But when his human showed up, his tail never stopped wagging! A couple of black Labradors were reunited with their families, and a small Aussie puppy left licking his boy's face. We decided that one of EARS supplies required should be confetti, to throw in the air to celebrate.

One of the hardest things for me while on deployment is missing my own pets. Yesterday, I woke up smiling, snuggling my kitten. As I became more alert, I realized I really wasn't in my own bed... how did my cat get here? The clinic cat had figured out how to open the exam room door, and curled up on my air mattress with me. She and I were curled around each other, and I could feel her purrs all the way through my chest. I've slept better in the last two nights. I wake up and every morning, she has joined me.

My poor husband, I called him three days ago saying I had been "mugged" by a hyena. We have a cute little unclaimed female dog who has the non-contagious mange. Then last night, I found out she was heartworm positive. So it looks like I'm taking my "Ugly Betty" home. The plan is to get her looking good, over the heartworms, and then find her a forever home.

Let me tell you about the "shelter dogs." They are the dogs who live at the HSSET, or belong to employes and come to work with them. Shaka is a tan female great dane. She alerts us every time a male comes anywhere near the front office. Belle Star, a female Shepard mix, takes a while to warm up to people, but has been known to sneak up and sniff strangers' hands. Tiny, a small tan Lab mix, looks like a miniature of Shaka. Then there is Jo, a long-hair black collie/Lab mix, who has the run of the shelter and surrounding area. He makes a security round at least twice a day, stops and says "hello" to all the people he knows, and checks out any strangers. All in all, a very loving group of shelter mascots.

Back to filling out rabies and health certificates. Need to get the paperwork for tomorrows transport done (when 99 animals will be moved to other shelters and rescue groups)!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Feng Shui, animal style

Submitted by Janell Matthies of Sacramento, California, EARS leader on site

EARS volunteers Terry Atwater and Barb Giddo have transformed what was once referred to as the Auditorium into the Feng Shui room. They did something in there that has made this the most peaceful room in the shelter. Even more than the cat room, which is saying a lot. The lights are dim, the dogs all sit quietly watching them's very zen. We've been moving some of the more stressed out dogs into that room today and you can see an immediate effect. We have now renamed the room to the Feng Shui room.

After lunch today, we had some down time while the dogs were all napping and Julie and Phil decided to test one of the German Shepherds for search and rescue potential. She quickly caught on to what they wanted from her, responded enthusiastically and passed with flying colors. She just went out for her evening walk and is still nose to the ground....sniffing , sniffing, sniffing.

As you can see, our temporary resident swans are still swimming all day and very unbothered by all the dogs and commotion. I sit and watch them on my breaks and pretend like I'm at the spa. It almost works.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Suckers for the animals

Submitted by Janell Matthies of Sacramento, California, EARS leader on site

This morning started the same as the others. My roommates waking and cheerful at 6:20 a.m. Do they not realize this is the middle of the night for us Californians?! I rolled over and pretended to go back to sleep, but then images of the dogs (like Miss Fang, a three-pound Chihuahua who cowers in the corner and shows her teeth to anyone who comes near her cage) waiting to go for a walk and get breakfast started going through my mind. I'm such a sucker.

I stopped for the coffee in a box that I promised the volunteers and got to the shelter to see everyone already busy at work -- cleaning cages, feeding and walking dogs. When I walked into Miss Fang's room, she cowered, growled then saw it was me. She started the whole-body wag and approached the front of the cage. I got her out to snuggle and took her for her walk. Some of the others saw her and commented on how cute she is. Miss Fang responded by glaring at them, then hid her head under my arm. And I always thought I was a big-dog girl.

Big news! The German Shepherd dubbed Sarge by EARS volunteers Julie and Phil (Castenada of Topeka, Kansas) went home just now with his mom. Brandi Furr (staff with the Humane Society of Southeast Texas) had mixed emotions as she handed him over to his very, very happy mom. This is the dog who was obviously very fearful and stressed when he first arrived.

Julie, Phil and Brandi all felt an instant connection to him. Phil and Julie worked with Sarge, using their extraordinary animal-handling skills and experience and passed on their techniques to Brandi who took over his care and handling. They were best buds for the past few days and could be seen playing with the other dogs and getting lots of attention from each other.

When we brought Sarge (real name Taaka) to his mom, he jumped all over her, then turned around and sat on her feet. We all agreed he was telling her he had been so worried about her and was back with her to take care of things. It was a great reunion. (Taaka is pictured here with Janell, his mom and Barndi)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Helping animals after Ike

It appears that the 2008 disaster season will never end. Just two weeks after Hurricane Gustav displaced thousands of people and pets in Louisiana, Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on the Texas coast. On September 18, United Animal Nations began deploying a team of Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers to Beaumont, Texas to help shelter dogs, cats and other pets displaced by the large and damaging Ike.

More than 30 EARS volunteers from across the Gulf Coast have already deployed to the Humane Society of Southeast Texas in Beaumont to care for more than 200 animals who were rescued from flooded communities until they can be reunited with their families or transferred to other facilities for long-term sheltering. Wah Wong, pictured above, of Houston was one of the first EARS volunteers to arrive in Beaumont and said that the animals "are all very sweet and loving despite the traumas of their experiences ..."

As of Saturday, the shelter had 150 dogs, 82 cats, 7 guinea pigs, 2 swans, 2 ferrets, 1 horse and 1 fish. Pictured here with EARS volunteer Lyle Varnes and a Humane Society of the United States representative is an emaciated, four-month-old pony who was rescued.

EARS volunteers are doing their very best to care the animals despite living and working in primitive conditions. For example, the shelter has electricity and running water, but no showers, beds or cots. Someone jerry-rigged a shower in one of the dog kennels, but on last report a sweet bull mastiff was living in it. A group from a local church has been donating home-made food to the EARS crew and providing sleeping and showering arrangements.

Please check back periodically for more photos and updates. You can also support our efforts in Beaumont by donating to our Disaster Relief Fund.