Monday, May 16, 2011

Peace of mind for flood evacuees in Mississippi

“Ya’ll are doing God’s work," “Bless ya’lls hearts," “Oh, I was so worried, now I feel much better," “Ya’ll will get to heaven before your toes are cold.”

These are the common phrases we hear throughout our long 10-hour days here in Natchez, Mississippi. The residents are still so amazed that this emergency animal shelter exists, and are even more awestruck when they walk through and see our operations.

UAN volunteers made hammocks
for the cats.
The cats are happily resting in their hammocks. The dogs are either patiently waiting for their walks, dozing in their kennels or out getting one-on-one social time and exercise. Even the younger, un-vaccinated puppies are able to get out of their kennels, run around and get some sunshine in our specially created puppy pens. Contagious disease control and prevention are always a high priority in any shelter and especially a temporary, emergency shelter full of owned animals.

A UAN volunteer bottle feeds a kitten.
Romie’s grandma brought him in yesterday. Romie is a Great Dane/Lab mix weighing in at about 140 pounds. His owner is active military and grandma is caring for him while her son is out protecting our country. Obviously, like the others, Romie deserves only the best. The fact that his owner was recently injured in the line of duty and his dog’s care was entrusted to us makes us even more inspired to ensure his ultimate comfort during his stay at the UAN temporary shelter.

Romie's special double-wide crate.
Romie fit “OK” in our largest crate, but “OK” is not good enough for us. The volunteers and staff MacGyvered a double-wide crate for him so he can spread out and be very comfortable. As you can see from the photos … he’s not too worried about the impending floods, budget cuts, the economy or anything else for that matter.

The special puppy play area.
One of the most gratifying occasions on this deployment is being able to take pet owners through our shelter and show them how comfortable and well cared for the animals are. Many stated they were not going to evacuate because they didn’t know where they would take their pets. Now that they know they have a safe place, they are packing, bringing their animals in to the emergency shelter and preparing for whatever the future holds. One woman said her neighbor told her to just “Let her dog go and hope he can swim.” The thought was devastating to her and she cried in relief to know there was a better option.

The staff and volunteers consider it a privilege to be here and to be able to help this community. And we are all very happy to know that our toes will not get cold on our way to heaven.

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