Monday, May 9, 2011

Animal flood victims getting royal treatment from UAN volunteers

Submitted by UAN volunter Debbie Ferguson of Kildeer, Illinois

It has been a hectic week for the ten UAN volunteers who traveled from across the United States to assist with a flood response in Kennett, Missouri. With the Mississippi river at an all-time high, residents in southeast Missouri were warned of imminent evacuation orders and many were proactive and took their animals to a local shelter for safekeeping.  It soon became clear that the shelter could not handle all of the animals, so the ASPCA was called in to assist.

Early morning horse feeding.
UAN volunteers began arriving last Thursday to help with the intake and sheltering of a wide variety of animals: horses, ponies, chickens, cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, a duck and even a goat. Hundreds of animals arrived each day and the total count reached well over 500 animals by Sunday afternoon.

Yes, we have chickens, too!
With a large number of very noisy dogs disturbing the peace for the other species, the decision was made to move them to a very large warehouse a couple of miles away.  Though the move created extra work for everyone involved, it soothed the nerves of the other animals tremendously and provided a large outdoor area for walking the dogs,  making everyone happier.

Though the majority of the animals were dropped off for safekeeping to be picked up when the flood threat is over, we also have a number of strays and animals who were voluntarily relinquished by their owners for various reasons. Those animals will be sent to adoption shelters and rescue groups after the owned animals are reunited with their families.

A happy pup gets hugs from his family
We were happy to hear last night that the National Guard had been instructed to leave the area and the potential order to evacuate was removed. So… we anticipated a busy day of animal reclaimis today and we got it. 

With well over 300 dogs, we were kept very busy feeding, watering, cleaning and walking them this morning, but the amazing UAN volunteers completed all tasks by 11 a.m. and the dogs were sleeping soundly around noon, when families started coming to pick them up. It was fun to see the reactions of both the dogs and their people when they were reunited. 

A happy reunion
The first to arrive was a man who came in for his two small dogs; he couldn’t get the smile off of his face when the dogs jumped into his arms. And his dogs couldn’t stop smothering him with kisses. 

The next was a family of four picking up their three dogs. When the first of the three dogs was handed over, both Mom and Dad were in tears and the pup couldn’t decide who to kiss first. 

And the day continued with other families and their dogs being reunited. At this writing, people are still coming in to pick up their dogs and the joy of watching them makes the hard work and long days worthwhile for all of us volunteers. At the same time, it is bittersweet, as many of us have become attached to our four-legged charges.

UAN field leader Shannon Asquith
says goodbye to a favorite dog
Field Leader Shannon Asquith tearfully said goodbye to a beautiful German shepherd she had grown very attached to. And most of us are watching to see if the next reunion will be with one of “our” dogs, because we want to personally walk them to their owners for a last goodbye.

I am waiting for the owner of a wonderful mother/daughter pair who have captured my heart completely, so I can rejoice in their reunion. 

Inseparable and adorable mother and child
We still have a large number of animals to care for but are hopeful that the majority will be back in the comfort of their own homes soon. And some of us may then move further south to assist in a similar emergency sheltering operation occurring in Mississippi right now.

More tomorrow…

3 comments:

  1. Having worked two floods with EARS in the 90's - I applaude you for all the hard work, dedication and endless hours that you all are putting in to help the furbabies and their families. My prayers are with you!

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  2. Love to hear that my fellow EARS Volunteers are always there to help! Thank you all for the great work and to hear of the wonderful reunions of owners and fur children. Also I am so glad to hear that alot of people protected their pets and sheltered them with UAN for a happy reunion later. Great Job! you are doing! God Bless!

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  3. keithbeckermann@yahoo.com5/12/11, 8:45 AM

    Hi this is Keith, I worked with you guys at Kennet 2 site helping with the large dogs. I just wanted to say it was a pleasure helping out, thanks for the experience. What you all are doing down there is great keep up the good work, the animals need you all!!!

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