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
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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.