NEW YORK, August 31, 2008 - In its first day of pre-storm assistance on the Gulf Coast, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) helped care for 38 evacuated animals from St. John Parish Animal Shelter in La Place, La., which is now closed until after Hurricane Gustav.
In addition, the ASPCA coordinated a transfer of animals from Acadia Parish, where 23 dogs and cats will likely soon be on their way to the Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio, Texas.
“Hurricane Gustav has prompted the transfer of hundreds of homeless and owned animals alike,” said Sandy Monterose, the ASPCA’s Senior Director of Community Outreach. “Our team is working 24/7 to coordinate sheltering and transfers, as well as care for these animals. We’ll continue our work until after the hurricane.”
The 24 dogs and 14 cats from St. John Parish Animal Shelter were taken to the Louisiana SPCA in New Orleans, where they will join animals there for transport to shelters in Texas.
“We thank the ASPCA and the Louisiana SPCA for their assistance in transporting our remaining dogs and cats,” said Jerry Trigo, an animal control officer at St. John Parish Animal Shelter. “For the first time since I have been volunteering and working there, all the kennels are empty.”
The ASPCA has also been in communication with representatives of other cities and parishes, including Animal Aid of Vermillion Parish (an animal rescue group), PAWS in Placquemine Parish, a Lafayette rescue group, and others. Friends of ASPCA officials also helped secure and offer safe housing for employees of the Louisiana SPCA who stayed until all animals from their shelter were safely evacuated.
The ASPCA deployed a team of 10 disaster response experts on Friday, August 29 at the request of the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART), which serves as the volunteer animal emergency response partner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry under ESF-11. Louisiana state officials have declared a pre-storm State of Emergency, and Gustav is a Category 3 Hurricane that could make landfall as early as Monday morning, September 1.
Members of the ASPCA disaster response team are at the site of the Louisiana Mega Shelter in Shreveport, where more than 180 animals belonging to evacuees have arrived and are being cared for; homeless animals in shelters are being transferred to agencies outside of the areas at risk of the hurricane. One of the ASPCA’s disaster response trailers is also on site, and the ASPCA’s partner agency, the Saranac Technical Rescue Team, is en route.
“We are pleased to be able to lend our assistance, both in terms of human resources and equipment, in disaster relief efforts,” said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres. “By using our resources strategically and making key connections at the local levels, the ASPCA’s Disaster Response team is able to effectively respond to shelters and animals in need.” The ASPCA’s Disaster Response Team of ten includes a veterinarian, veterinary technicians, disaster responders and sheltering professionals.
Other agencies besides the ASPCA that are assisting LSART’s efforts include United Animal Nations, Code 3, American Humane Association, the Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Best Friends, Noah’s Wish and numerous other humane and disaster response groups.
The ASPCA's Disaster Response Team was created in September, 2005 as a mechanism to assist with the rescue of animals in crisis during a disaster. As the need grew across the country, the ASPCA responded by deploying the teams nationwide when requested by the agency having jurisdiction. For more information on evacuating and related links, please visit the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness & Louisiana Citizen Awareness Disaster Evacuation Guide site.