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Disaster Area pets

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The caption to this picture reads: A dog vainly swims through flood water in New Orleans, hoping for rescue but given a wide berth by searchers. (full article)

There is absolutely no question that the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast has been unspeakable. Blog entries around the world have focused on everything from responsibility to aid to rebuilding to environmental issues to personal stories. Just last Friday, a conglomeration of radio stations around the Twin Cities raised around $900,000 for the Red Cross through Storm Aid: Minnesota's River of Relief. Crafters United has established an Etsy store for the Red Cross. I applaud these efforts. My contribution, though, is for the animals. As devastating as it would be to me to lose everything in one storm, to lose everything and my 4-legged children would be one of the worst things that could ever happen to me. In many ways I am far from politically correct when it comes to animals. I truly am sad for everyone who was affected by the hurricane, but I saw a picture of one of the stray dogs around the Super Dome that was just heart-wrenching because of what it means for the Gulf Coast pets.

Fortunately, I'm not completely alone in my monetary sympathies. Petfinder.com and Petrelocation.com have both set up projects to help rescue animals and reunite them with their owners when possible. Around 80 dogs have recently been airlifted from New Orleans to California to ease the burden in the Gulf temporarily. Others are going to Houston, TX, and Gonzalas, LA.

Almost every major animal organization is involved in these rescue efforts. If it's in your heart and your budget, here are some places to consider aiding through donations:

The Humane Society of the United States

Noah's Wish

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Best Friends Animal Society

The American Kennel Club

As I've stated before in many different venues, donations do not need to just be monetary. All shelters can use old computers, cell phones, towels, blankets, food, toys, leashes, crates/kennels, transportation assistance, and volunteer time. The shelters in the Gulf can especially use these types of donations as well. Or your local area shelters.

Other ways you can help in the eventuality of future disasters is to help lobby for more resources for animals in disasters. Some speculations state that not wanting to leave pets is one of the top reasons people won't evacuate. Shelters frequently don't accept pets, transportation with animals can be extremely difficult, especially in an emergency situation, some pets tend to be less transportable than others, and frequently rescuers can only allow one "item" that does not include pets (see more at the article posted above). I don't know what the answer is. I'm fortunate enough to have means of evacuating with the dogs if I need to. But I'm not sure I'd know what to do if I didn't have a car and know of places I can go.