On August 28, 2008, the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) contacted the ASPCA to assist in the pre-storm evacuation and sheltering of animals in the wake of Tropical Storm Gustav. The state declared a pre-storm State of Emergency and asked the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team deploy to the site of their Mega Shelter in Shreveport, LA. The Mega Shelter had already recieved numerous requests for assistance from local parish shelters and other animal welfare organizations throughout Louisiana. Other agencies 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 Animal Society, Noah’s Wish and numerous other humane and disaster response groups.
In addition to deploying members of our Field Investigations and Response Team, the ASPCA distributed $50,000 in emergence grants. Agencies receiving emergency grants following Hurricane Gustav included:
Wild Animal Orphanage, San Antonio, TXs, for transport assistance
Louisiana SPCA, New Orleans, for food and supplies provided for shelter animals as well as pets of evacuees in the surrounding community
Greater Birmingham Humane Society, Birmingham, AL, for reimbursement and assistance with gathering and transporting supplies
Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Plaquemines Parish, LA, for crates and supplies to relocate animals and restock
Animal Rescue New Orleans for recovery, and kennel and food distribution to lower parishes
Humane Society of Louisiana, New Orleans, for assistance and assessments throughout Southeast Louisiana
Denham Springs Animal Shelter, Denham Springs, LA, for recovery and kennel damage repair
For vital information on creating disaster plans that include your pets, visit our Disaster Preparedness Tips.
Field Reports from the Scene
The following is a series of field reports from the team on the ground in Shreveport, LA.
Field Report #1
In its first day of pre-storm assistance on the Gulf Coast, the ASPCA helped care for 38 evacuated animals from St. John Parish Animal Shelter in La Place, LA, which is now closed until after Hurricane Gustav. 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. 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.
Other members of our Team are at 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.
Field Report #2
The ASPCA has now checked in more than 800 animals into the Louisiana Mega Shelter in Shreveport. The shelter for evacuees is at capacity, so they are being rerouted to shelters in other states. The shelter for animals still has room available, so we are continuing to receive evacuees' pets. The ASPCA, along with the American Humane Association, currently has a 24 hour presence at the shelter. 4 ASPCA team members and 6 AHA team members are doing 12 hours shifts to care for the animals. Team members have been conducting the intake of new animals, and also escorting pet owners to visit their dogs and cats. Along with the dogs and cats, we have also received rabbits, hamsters, birds, snakes, and other reptiles. The team will continue to staff the shelter while Hurricane Gustav makes landfall.
Photo Journal of Mega Shelter
The ASPCA Disaster Response Trailer.
Checking in an evacuee's pet.
A Pug waiting out the storm at the Louisiana Mega Shelter.
ASPCA Forensic Veterinarian Dr. Melinda Merck checks a puppy who was born at the Louisiana Mega Shelter in Shreveport.
ASPCA's Dr. Melinda Merck walks Gabrielle in the dog walking area outside the Mega Shelter. Gabrielle and her owner were separated during the evacuation, but because Gabrielle was wearing a collar, we will be able to reunite her with her owners.
Stories of Rescue
Vinny the Pug and Allen!
When Hurricane Gustav hit, Allen Kimble and his celebri-dog, Vinny the Pug, were visiting New Orleansone of many stops on their tour to raise $100,000 for pet rescue organizationsand they were among the many families to evacuate to Shreveport. “I wouldn’t have evacuated without Vinny,” says Allen. “The Shreveport shelters quite possibly saved both of our lives.” We’d like to give a special shout-out to Vinny, and wish him well on his quest to get into the Guiness Book of World Records. This talented four-legged dude has climbed more than 8,000 bouldersand he’s got the photos to prove it!
Ken, Michael, Pooh Bear and Prissy
Keeping People and Pets Together: When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Ken and Michael Morgan were forced to evacuate and leave their dogs Pooh Bear and Prissy behind. Though thankfully both dogs were rescued, it was tough to find them again. The men searched for 40 days (yes, they counted!) before locating their dogs at a Texas shelter. Three years later, the scenario has changed for the better. During Hurricane Gustav, Ken and Michael evacuated with Pooh Bear and Prissy to the Mega Shelter in Shreveport, LA, where the ASPCA Disaster Response Team is working to assist the pets of evacuees. Since the animal and people shelters are located next to each other, Ken and Michael are able to visit their dogs several times a day. Both dogs are deaf, but respond to Ken and Michael's visual cues to sit, bark and lie down.
Esteban, Pirita and Black
ASPCA Director of Disaster Response Allison Cardona processes the paperwork of pet parent Esteban Gil as he prepares to return to New Orleans after Hurricane Gustav. Esteban, along with his dogs, Pirita and Black, successfully evacuated to the Louisiana Mega Shelter prior to the storm. In 2005, during Hurricane Katrina, Esteban was forced to part from a previous dog, who perished in the flooding.
Deanne and Dutchess
New Orleans resident Deanne spends some quality time with her pup, Dutchess, inside the Mega Shelter in Shreveport. Evacuees and their pets are housed in separate shelters, but pet parents are able to visit their furkids.
Arthur, Debbie, China and Lipsy
When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Arthur Anglemier was forced to evacuate and leave his three cats, Debbie, China and Lipsy, behind. Though he left them with large amounts of water and food, he was beside himself for the several days he had to wait before returning home. Grateful that all three cats survived, Arthur says he'll never again evacuate without themand thanks to new protocols that have been set in place since Hurricane Katrina, he didn't have to. When Gustav hit last week, Arthur and his cats were able to take cover from the storm together at the the Mega Shelter in Shreveport, LA.
Red and Smoky
ASPCA Forensic Veterinary Assistant Felicia Early helps Smoky and his pet parent, Red, check out of the Mega Shelter. Red was grateful that she could evacuate with Smoky since her house was eventually destroyed in the hurricane. While checking out of the Mega Shelter, she thanked the ASPCA staff and said: "I'm not sure what I'm going home to, but I still have Smoky and I'm forever grateful for that."
Gregg and Scooter
Puppy Scooter and his owner, Greg Johnson, checking out of the Shreveport, LA, Mega Shelter and goin' back home to Lafayette.
Richard,Susan and Daisy
Daisy, a four-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix, smiles for the camera before going home to Lafayette, LA! Since moving to Lafayette in 1991, Daisy's pet parents, Richard and Susan Phelps, have lived through countless hurricanes, including the devastating Katrina. They evacuated to the "Super-Pit" sports coliseum at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX, while their beloved Daisy was housed at the Mega Shelter in Shreveport. According to Richard, Daisy "loves to take walks, play ball in the hallway, and survive Hurricanes Rita and Gustav!"