Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #12, #13 – Saves!

October 2, 2005

I hope you got here from Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #10, #11: Gearing Up for a Shift Change so you have some context. If not, I suggest you go back to the beginning (Lamar-Dixon Chronicles: Introduction). Each episode links to the next for continuity.

10/1/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #12

Here is a forward from Sandy’s mother reporting on Sandy’s activities today. I think it says it all, and I don’t have anything to add.

Sandy and Jill went to house that someone told them they had heard a dog. All the doors and windows had bars on them. She tried to break thru the front door but she could not budge the deadbolts. They walked around the house and found a kind of storage unit attached to the house. She started breaking down the wall! She made a hole big enough for them to crawl thru and went thru the house. They found a lab in the laundry room. He growled at them at first then as they got nearer to him, he got very excited ( & pee’d)  She said he wasn’t too bad. They looked around and found a phone bill and started calling to find the owners. She got in touch with the owner and told him they had rescued his dog and he started to cry. He said he couldn’t believe he was still alive. Sandy said he must have been pretty portly and he said he had weighed 90 pounds. She said he broke down and cried several times during their conversation. He is coming to New Orleans tomorrow to get the dog. He said you and I are going to become best friends. You don’t know how happy you have made us. We have been crying about the dog for weeks. He asked her how the house was and she said not too bad but all the locks are smashed and he laughed and said that was okay with him.

Then they were driving down the street and saw a little Pomeranian with its face pressed up against the window. They broke in there and the dog was in pretty bad shape. Could hardly hold its head. They looked around again for someway to contact the owner and after a few phone calls they got in touch with the dog’s owner. She said other people had called her and told her they had found her dog (Snowball). Sandy told her the fish were still alive. She said they couldn’t find any fish food so they gave them some corn flakes. She said where did you find that. Sandy said on top of the refrigerator. She said you really are in my house and you really do have Snowball. They took Snowball to the triage and the gave her some IV’s and some nutracal and she started to perk up a little bit. Her owners are going to come tomorrow too.

So all in all a pretty happy day for the last day there. Sandy is so jazzed that she might really get to meet the owners. She will be home tomorrow for sure. Her kids sure do miss her as I am sure she misses them. Ty and Brink are no trouble….but that little girl is a handful and sure has a mind of her own. So this will close the Sandy rescue saga.

10/2/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #13

I talked to Sandy yesterday morning before she left to return home. She confirmed that she had gotten to meet the owners of two of HER actual rescues for their reunion with their dogs. She said that those two moments made EVERYTHING worth it.

Here is a forward from Judie Mancuso on the status at Lamar-Dixon: “Hi everyone! This is Mark writing to you from Jane’s email. I just spoke with her, and received an update on the activities in New Orleans. The state Vet has advised that they are no longer to accept anymore animals at the Lamar Dixon Expo center. To combat this recent decision, Jane has found another location. However, in the last hour, there is a problem with that center. Jane is desperate for a new location. A farm, barn, warehouse or other location that can be set up to house rescued animals. The rescue effort is not done! They are still rescuing about 100 animals from homes every day. The ones that they are finding dead, did not die from the hurricane, but are dead from starvation/dehydration. They’ve been found in carriers, and curled up on their people’s beds. The clock is still ticking! So please, if you have a source for a location, please respond ASAP.”

“As for help, they are still in need of people to come to New Orleans to perform various task. Yes they still need those who can rescue and feed, but they also need those who can do shelter work, administration work, check in animals, drive them to shelters, etc, etc. Lamar Dixon is still housing the volunteers, just not taking in any animals. Please go down ASAP. New volunteers are to meet at 9 pm between barns 1&2 for orientation/direction. They meet again at 5:30 am to get going and to be briefed on the days activities. The national groups have pulled out of New Orleans as per orders of the state vet, Jane is operating the rescue efforts on her own with the help of the volunteers. Please help!”

As you can see, the need for wiling volunteers continues as the situation becomes more and more dire for the dogs that have been left behind. We had been told that the rescues were stopping, but it turns out that it is only the HSUS-sanctioned rescues that have ceased. They simply changed the signs on the cars and are still going in daily.

I got an update from Art Bailey that Lorrayne has arrived safely and has connected with Jill and Eric and the RV. They were on their way to dinner when she called. Eric arrived this morning, so I’m assuming he has had a chance to get oriented.

Volunteer update: Thanks to several of our airline miles donors, Cara Callaway and her crew of three friends are confirmed on flights and ready to go next Sunday. The three friends are returning on the 15th, but it looks like Bay Teamer Deborah Dulaney will be flying out on the 10/16 to stay with Cara for another week. Bay Teamer Ginger Cutter has also expressed her desire to go later in October, and we’re working on that now. In addition, Sarah’s mother recruited two people in Mesquite, NV, on the basis of our reports – they’re leaving on Friday. And they’re doing it on their own – all they want from us is an update on the best place for them to go, based on the reports we get on the status of the shelters.

Next up: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #14: More Changes 


Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #10, #11 – Gearing up for a Shift Change

September 29, 2005

I hope you got here from Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #8, #9: Our Volunteer Effort Expands so you have some context. If not, I suggest you go back to the beginning (Lamar-Dixon Chronicles: Introduction). Each episode links to the next for continuity.

9/28/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #10

WendysfirstrescueWe’re gearing up for a shift change this weekend.  Sandy and Wendy are coming home on Friday, Jill is staying through the weekend, and Eric and Lorrayne are arriving Sunday. Here is an update on today’s activities from Wendy’s husband: “Wendy asked me to e-mail you about today’s adventure. They had a great day of rescues, Wendy and her partner broke into one house and found a Shepherd mix in a bathtub in very sad shape plus growling at them. So they called for back-up and once they got to dog out it turned out to be very loving and just happy to be with them. What a great story! She also  rescued a black lab that was belly up [editor’s note: in a good, submissive way] as soon as she got to him. Other than that just a dead alligator floating that was mistaken for a human being that’s a good thing. The other rescue crew found a couple of cats, so all in all a great day of saving 4-legged lives.”

More good news: after a conversation with Sarah following her return, Nancy Ross took the information and the plea back to work. As a result, one of her co-workers has volunteered to go, and her company has sponsored a fundraising effort to pay her(his?) expenses. That’s how it works folks – word of mouth and getting people involved.

The biggest challenge we’re facing at this point is making travel arrangements. Many of the flights into New Orleans are either sold out or cancelled. I don’t know if they are running limited service or what other factors are contributing, but I assume that evacuees are just trying to get home. Eric was packed, ready to go, and waiting for marching orders at the airport today, and we were unable to get him on a flight. We even had an itinerary that was affordable that we could have paid for, but it was unavailable because the final leg from Dallas to New Orleans had been cancelled.

By the way, when this is over, I will do my best to publicly acknowledge all of the people who have helped out. But right now, I need to thank Kathy Bennett (one of Sandy’s students, if I’m not mistaken) – not only did she donate enough miles to cover both Eric and Lorrayne’s flights, but she personally took on the responsibility for making all of their arrangements, fighting with the airline for seats, and paying the “short-notice” fee out of her own pocket. Again, that’s the kind of effort that is making this all work.

Financial update: We still need airline miles. I have a few more people who are ready to go on Oct 9th, and it would be great if we could help them out. American, Delta, Continental, and United (or other airlines that partner with them) are the most accessible. I’ve given up on the non-profit idea after being turned down by a couple of groups that I know pretty well. And I’ve concluded that those that are contributing don’t really care – they’re doing so from their hearts, not their tax returns. So if you’re still interested in contributing money, let me know – you can either send a check or use Paypal.

9/29/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #11

Well, today was a big day of success, changes and uncertainty.

The biggest news is that Sandy had two true saves today. There has been some confusion in the computer department and dispatch, so many of the houses on her list had already been checked. You can imagine how frustrating that was for her. But she and Jill took matters into their own hands and got creative. First, they started interpreting the codes that the National Guard had spray-painted on the houses during the human evacuations. It didn’t take long to figure out that “SPCA 1″ might mean 1 pet in the house. They broke into one house so marked, and sure enough, a live dog! The second one came when a worker (maybe a utility worker? don’t remember) reported having heard a dog in a house. Another break-in, and another save!  Wow! What an up note for the day.

From Wendy, I got the logistics update. There was some confusion with their return plans, so they’re actually coming home on Saturday. That’s a total of 12 days in the trenches for them. More importantly, she reported that Lamar-Dixon has announced that they will be moving all of their animals out and closing down the shelter at the Expo Center by Oct 15. Furthermore, they are suspending rescue missions and animal intake as of tomorrow, except for those in critical condition. But they will be continuing to distribute food and water to the neighborhood feeding stations for the animals that are still loose and surviving on the streets. And of course, the care of the animals on the site will continue until they have all been moved.

So Eric and Lorrayne are traveling into a very transitional environment on Sunday. It is very likely that they will be moving to a different shelter during their stay, perhaps Hattiesburg MS or Raceland LA. Or maybe somewhere else. I updated both of them with the new information to make sure it wasn’t getting too scary for them. Lorrayne’s response was great – “It’s just getting more interesting. I always wanted to see Louisiana, Mississippi, etc.”  Don’t worry, she’s not being flippant – she gave up her romanticized vision of the trip very early on and is going in with eyes wide open.

Volunteer update: Cara Calloway and 3 friends from SoCal are leaving on 10/9. Her friends have to return on 10/15, but she is planning to stay (somewhere) until 10/23. Bay Teamer Deborah Dulaney let me know that she negotiated some time off work and will be ready to leave on 10/16 for a week.

Financial update: We made HUGE progress on airline miles today – thanks to all of you who responded. We are now able to take care of transportation for all seven of the volunteers mentioned above, and even have some waiting in the wings in case other volunteers step up. Contributions are still rolling in as well to help with RV rental, car rental, camping fees, gas, etc. I can’t thank everyone enough, and as soon as we emerge from the other end of this thing, I’ll make a list.

Next up: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #12, #13: Saves!


Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #8, #9 – Our Volunteer Effort Expands

September 27, 2005

I hope you got here from Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #6, #7: Back to Business so you have some context. If not, I suggest you go back to the beginning (Lamar-Dixon Chronicles: Introduction). Each episode links to the next for continuity.

9/26/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #8

Well, the first mission is winding down, but the second is already happening, and the third and fourth are well underway.  Sarah is arriving home tonight – she was hoping to stay another day, but there weren’t any flights available on Tuesday. Sandy and Wendy are planning to return on Wednesday. But Jill Moran, an Animal Control Officer out of San Clemente, is arriving tonight to take over the RV and continue the volunteer rescue efforts. Eric Bruce and Lorrayne Bailey are scheduled to leave on Sunday for a week, and then Cara Calloway (from SoCal) and two of her friends are leaving on October 9th. We expect to have the RV fully occupied with volunteers at least through October 15th.

Starting today, Sandy and Wendy shifted their efforts to rescue in the field. Lamar-Dixon is serving as the coordination and dispatch center (as well as receiving facility) for missions into the city. They meet at 6:00am, get their marching orders and lists, and take off in teams. Rescuers are given tools (crowbars) for gaining access, and they deposit animals at triage centers where they are evaluated and prepped for transport back to the facility. Apparently, there are thousands of outstanding rescue requests from evacuees who left their animals behind in their homes. At this point, weeks into the disaster, the outcomes of these searches are tending more toward non-productive or even grim, but there are still enough successes to make the effort essential and rewarding.

Financial update: Contributions continue to come in, and we have a couple of possibilities for a charitable non-profits to handle the intake and distribution of funds. If one of those comes through, I will update everybody on the options for re-submitting contributions so that they will be tax-deductible. Turns out that some of the pledges we were hoping for were routed to various SPCA and Humane Societies, which doesn’t help our expense defrayal at all. But we’re still OK, and able to provide much better conditions for our volunteers than others at the facility have. If you have airline miles to contribute, please let me know.

9/27/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #9

The Lamar-Dixon mission has taken on a more desperate tone. The call has gone out for anybody who is able to go out in the field and rescue dogs to do so. Following is a message straight from Lamar-Dixon (forwarded by Priscilla Gargalis):

“I just received a call from Jane (Garrison) who is still frantically trying to save as many animals as possible left when Katrina hit New Orleans. There are still 6,000 addresses where people reportedly left animals. Many are being found barely alive at this point. Many have starved to death! THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE…IF YOU, OR ANYONE YOU KNOW CAN GO TO GONAZALES, LOUISIANA TO HELP WITH THE RESCUE EFFORT…JUST GO. JANE AND HER CREW MEET AT 5:30 A.M. EVERY MORNING IN FRONT OF THE PROWLER TRAILER AT THE LAMAR DIXON EXPO CENTER. TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR THESE ANIMALS AND THE FEW PEOPLE WHO ARE RESCUING, WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GET THEM ALL OUT IN TIME! THEY ARE DYING OF STARVATION…NOT BECAUSE OF THE HURRICANE! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO WITH A GROUP OR ORGANIZATION, YOU DO NOT  NEED AN INVITATION OR APPROVED  APPLICATION. JUST GO FOR THE ANIMALS!”

Don’t bother checking this on Snopes, this is not an urban legend and it is not hyperbole. Sandy spent yesterday and today out in the field and reported back to me today. Yesterday, she and Wendy dropped food at designated neighborhood feeding stations that they are hoping will sustain the animals that are loose on the streets. Today, Sandy and Jill broke into 27 homes that were known to contain animals based on the requests from the owners, some of the reports as old as three weeks. From those 27 homes, they rescued 8 or 9 animals – I think she said 8 dogs and a duck. I’m not going to expand on the details of what she found in the rest of the homes, I’ll just say that this is hard work in every way and definitely not for everyone.

Based on what she saw today, Sandy has extended her stay for at least another day or two, and has called several of her contacts in the animal control world to personally appeal to them. At this point, we are trying to get two ACOs from San Francisco down there in the next day or two, and we’re also working on a couple of people from the Northwest. Time is of the essence – it’s been a month since the storm hit.

Financial update: At the moment, our biggest need is for airline miles. HSUS is paying for some volunteers to come down, but the process is cumbersome and not at all certain. Some of you have expressed an interest in contributing additional money, and I’m holding off until I get an answer from one of the charitable non-profits we’re hoping will handle the funds. If you don’t care whether or not your contribution is tax-deductible, let me know – you can either send a check or use Paypal.

Next up: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #10, #11: Gearing Up for a Shift Change


Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #6, #7 – Back to Business

September 25, 2005

I hope you got here from Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #4, #5: Hunkered Down in Mississippi so you have some context. If not, I suggest you go back to the beginning (Lamar-Dixon Chronicles: Introduction). Each episode links to the next for continuity.

9/24/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #6

Just another lazy day in the Deep South, wearin’ white gloves and sippin’ mint juleps . . . NOT!   No RC Cola and MoonPies either, but that doesn’t mean that the last 24 hours hasn’t met with a few Southern clichés.  Today found our intrepid volunteers faced first with a tornado watch, escalating quickly to a tornado warning as the eastern edge of Rita passed by. Toto, we may not be in Kansas, but the weather is just as sucky down there in Mississippi.  I’m not sure Sarah appreciated my wry remark about the magnetic attraction between tornadoes and trailer parks – in fact, I’m pretty sure I heard the F-bomb fly through the funky cell phone connection.

After breakfast at The Waffle House (how’s that for cliché?), Wendy and Sandy went looking for work to do. They caught wind of a temporary shelter at the Jackson Fairgrounds, and quickly went back to collect Sarah and their supplies and go back to work. Once at the Fairgrounds, surrounded by reassuring brick buildings to use as tornado shelters, they found there were only about 50 animals and the staff on site had everything under control. So back to the RV to anxiously watch the news and wait for the opportunity to return to Gonzales.

The news from Gonzales is good – from Judie Mancuso: “I just spoke with my friend Jane’s (she’s leading the rescues at Gonzales) husband, Mark Garrison.  He said that Jane has reported all is well in Gonzales, as a matter of fact they have a team of people out doing rescues today. So, I left Wendy a message that it’s OK to return, they can use all the help they can get. Jane told Mark it hit around 2:30am, a bad storm with 65mph winds. But, the animals and people left (about 30 folks) are all OK and everything is back up and running.”

I forwarded this message to Sarah, in case they can’t get voicemail. Hopefully, with the continued northern travel of Rita, they’ll be able to head back sometime tomorrow to get back to the work they went there to do.

In the meantime, Sarah said they all laughed when they got my message about using a non-profit to “launder” the collected money. It seems that the three of them had had a similar idea over dinner, and actually discussed the merits of starting a non-profit to do exactly what we’ve been doing here – funding volunteers who want to go to disaster sites and help out.  There are lots of organizations set up to fund the actual rescues and shelters, but none who are willing to pay expenses for anybody other than their established staff and volunteers. So we’ll see how that goes – stay tuned.

Volunteer update: We have a confirmed crew of two leaving on October 9, driving, so no air miles will be needed. But we may be able to help with gas money, and of course, they would be MOST grateful if the RV was still there. That means we need to keep that RV occupied and funded. Anybody up for the trip?

9/25/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #7

Our intrepid travelers are back at Lamar-Dixon.  They left Jackson early this morning and made it back safely, but not without encountering some pretty heavy rain and some white-knuckle wind conditions. They went back to work immediately upon returning to the shelter.

Here’s an update from Wendy’s husband: “I talked with Wendy this afternoon she says that everything is OK but a lot of dogs were not there when they got back to Dixon today, hopefully they just moved them around. But more could be on their way after Rita’s damage. Wendy and Sandy are going to stay an extra day and return Wednesday instead of Tuesday as previously planned. They had a tough time in Mississippi because of all the tornado threats, I can imagine that sleeping wasn’t easy or comfortable. They are doing a great thing over there and I for one am very thankful and supportive of the job they have taken to heart. The stories await their safe return. God Bless them and all who read this. Thanks for your support and prayers, Mike V.”

Volunteer update: Jill Moran, an animal control officer, is leaving Wednesday for Lamar-Dixon. Her airfare is being covered by HSUS, who apparently is helping “qualified” people (ACOs and Vet Techs) get there to volunteer. She is hoping to use the RV, and I don’t see why not. Our current plan is to keep it in place at least through the 2nd week of October. Our own Lorrayne Bailey is getting her shots as we speak, and is planning to leave on Oct 2 for a week or so.  She’ll overlap with Jill, but I’m hoping for another volunteer to join her during that week. And we have two more volunteers leaving from SoCal on Oct 9.

Financial update: Between the HSUS (for Jill) and the people who have offered mileage awards, I’m certain we’ll be able to cover airfare for anybody who wants to go. Once the volunteers get there, the expenses are minimal – the volunteers are well fed, and there are even locals doing laundry for the volunteers. Our biggest expenses are the RV rental, car rentals, and gas for those who drive. The RV may feel like an extravagance, but I can assure you it’s not. Even though FEMA finally put up an air-conditioned tent for the volunteers, the tent got taken down for Rita and there is no confirmation yet as to when or if they will put it back up. Volunteers are sleeping in their cars and in camping tents – not conditions we want to encourage for our volunteers.  Also, without the RV, our girls would have been in a world of hurt when they had to evacuate – there are no hotel/motel rooms available anywhere from Houston to Florida. And without a car available, they are also too exposed if they have to get out in a hurry.

Many of the volunteers just got dropped off on the site, and it was a real hassle when they had to evacuate – the organizers had to arrange for buses to get them out of there. Others who had no place to stay were being stacked up 10-deep in hotel rooms. One of the first rules I learned as an EMT a jillion years ago was “don’t become a victim”. In this case, one could say “there’s no point in being a rescuer if you end up having to be rescued yourself.” Our volunteers have been completely self-contained and able to care for themselves and stay safe when it became necessary. In other words, they haven’t been able to participate in the solution as much as they had hoped or planned, but at least they didn’t become part of the problem.

Next up: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #8, #9: Our Volunteer Effort Expands


Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #4, #5 – Hunkered Down in Mississippi

September 23, 2005

I hope you got here from Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #2, #3: Getting Down to Business so you have some context. If not, I suggest you go back to the beginning (Lamar-Dixon Chronicles: Introduction). Each episode links to the next for continuity.

9/23/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #4

Well, the subject of this message should really be Jacksonville Chronicles, because that is where they are now – safely ensconced at an RV Park south of Jacksonville, MS.  Thanks to the proprietor (I think), who not only let them stay after turning dozens of others away, but bought them a 50A-30A converter so they could plug in and loaned them a TV so they could catch up with what’s going on around them. Sarah was also able to repair the generator, with help on the phone by the guy that rented it to them (10 hours away), by finding a loose wire in the electrical system – sounds like the coil wire or a spark plug wire. So whenever they are able to go back, they will have electricity even if their plug-in spot is gone.

All this was gleaned from two very brief phone conversations with Sarah, so I still don’t have any more first-hand details about the Lamar-Dixon facility.  Here’s an update on the evacuation from one of Judie Mancuso’s contacts (Judie is the volunteer who returned just before our crew left):

“There are still a lot of volunteers who stayed behind and there are huge trucks on stand-by in case they need to get the animals out. They are taking down the FEMA tent and are expecting winds as high as 75 mph, as you said.  But they seem to think that unless it is upgraded, things will be OK.”

Second Shift update: I have one confirmed volunteer ready to go, but not until October 2. Another is considering it. I’m investigating what other housing arrangements are available, because the RV was the single biggest expense (and I gather somewhat marginal accommodations). If we can find other suitable places for the volunteers to sleep and clean, we can spend the money much more efficiently. The following just came from Judie:

“We slept in our car and in a tent. There are showers on the premises. FEMA had set up a tent with cots and air conditioning after we left. This would be used by the volunteers.”

I also heard that they are feeding the volunteers three square meals.  If I can verify that these reports are both true, is there anybody up for a vacation on the Gulf Coast?

Financial update: If we can ditch the RV, we definitely have the funds and air miles to send more crews. And more keeps coming in from both ends of the state. Hopefully TRACS this weekend will be productive – drop by the Everything 4 Paws booth to contribute if you’d like. Some people are using my Paypal account as well.

9/23/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #5

Now that our heroes are holed up in Jacksonville, they actually have good connections for both cell phone and e-mail. They are busy charging up their devices now – the cigarette lighter in the RV doesn’t work, so they had to take turns in the rental car.

From Sarah, I have this (I filled in some words to supplement the thumb-typing short-hand):  FEMA has supplied an air-conditioned tent for camping. They took it down for Rita, but we assume they will put it back up – will verify upon return. Showers are available. Food is fine – even had veggie hot pasta dinner. It was good. Breakfast bar and coffee, but you have to get there early for lunch. Lots of water, gatorade and sodas all day. [and this is a direct quote] “I only worked one day, it was the hardest work I have ever done.”

I have also learned the following from Sandy, compiled from a voicemail message: We can keep the RV indefinitely if we can keep occupying it (and of course, paying for it). The rate is somewhat lower than I thought because the initial rate included delivery from Arkansas. Even if somebody ends up going alone, there are volunteers who are sleeping in their cars who would love to have a real bed for a night or two. All three of our folks are planning to stay at least a couple of days longer than originally planned, partly because of a sense of moral obligation to make up for the days they got chased away by Rita, and partly because they expect their flight plans through Houston to be messed up by Rita.

So far, I have three tentative volunteers: one (male) who can probably leave anytime, another (female) who can leave October 2, and a third (female) who can leave October 10. If you can sign up to be part of one of these potential teams, please let me know. I’m going full-steam ahead with planning and I’m confident we can come up with the funds to pull it off for those who can’t cover the expenses on their own.

Last but not least, I am forwarding the following message from two other volunteers on the ground, not part of our crew but friends of Judie Mancuso’s. If we don’t come through with new crews of our own, we will consider supporting their desire to continue working. This story is about rescuing animals from the street, not working in the shelter as our folks are doing, but it gives a good first hand view of the enormity of the situation.


From Pia and Megan:

In re-reading the e-mail we wrote on 9/15, it seems like years ago-  Re: the dog we mentioned setting out to get that day, though the info relayed by 1800saveapet.com- we were able to get him!  His name was Peaty and he was loyally guarding his abandoned water-logged home – he was in the front yard when we arrived with the US Marshall assisting us as it was after dark and we were beyond the curfew – he immediately ran inside – we ultimately found him rested up against a set of drawers in the bedroom corner – we got a loop around his neck and eventually he came with us walking low to the ground and with tail between his legs – his eyes were really bugged out which a handler later described as a phenomena called ‘whale eye’ that happens under extreme stress and heightened awareness – we saw this in so many of the dogs – they share many of the signs of trauma seen in humans – exaggerated startle response, etc. Peatie has since been re-united with his mother – hooray!

IMAGE_4Following Peatie’s rescue we got a call from Peatie’s neighbor who asked that we find his Jack Russell mix, Jack.  He recounted the heartbreaking tale of how he had been forced to leave Jack behind on a bridge. He had placed Jack in a bag and was about to be rescued off of a bridge where many people and their pets were awaiting rescue. Jack was quietly hidden in a bag and an officer forced him to open the bag and place Jack on the bridge if he wished to be rescued himself. Glenn, Jack’s dad pleaded but the officer wouldn’t hear it and Glenn relinquished Jack instructing him to go home and wait for him. Glenn recounted how so many people were forced to do the same with little animals that could easily have been carried to safety. He also told of the larger dogs who were behaving well and staying with owners or frantically trying to attach themselves to people to get saved but were not allowed to leave. Ironically Glenn was permitted to take the very same bag with him that Jack had been hidden in- so the issue of not having the room for these animals was ridiculous. Animals are considered property under the law, like a TV or chair- we could understand if you could not take you TV b/c it took up too much room- but in this case the authorities essentially determined which property one could take -and they permitted a bag that took the same space, over a dog who would have been rescued in that space- this should be criminal. The law must be changed regarding this status!!!!! Glenn explained that a female trooper was near him and pleaded with the authorities, explaining that this made no sense and asking why- but she too was shut down. So animals frantically ran up and down that bridge watching as their “owners” were forced to leave them- many making promises to return for them. Jack heeded his dad’s instruction a returned to his house blocks away and waited. We found him under the car- right where Glenn said he would be- he quietly ran behind the house but we were able to lure him out with potato chips as He has since been reunited with is dad who drove in from Texas to retrieve him- hooray!!! Ironically, Jack had been adopted by Glenn following another flood that he was rescued from!

Among the other rescues were sickly or injured kittens and countless dogs with chemical burns from the water- David Meyer rescued some skinny caged birds earlier today-Unfortunately our days were also punctuated with sighting of dogs still on chains- having drowned trying to get free-injured cats, etc.  It is very hard to tolerate and I sob as I recount this-too too much to wrap ones mind around.

There are many kittens and puppies too-with their faithful nursing mamas and papas staying to protect them and dragging the open cans of food we leave under houses to feed them. Unfortunately there have been some instances in which mother dogs are attacking their puppies over food though. The US marshals assisting us recounted a case like this but they were able to get the puppy and bring it to a vet triage set up. Another sad sight we saw all too often were live dogs sitting by decomposing dogs who were likely their friends and companions- who had clearly died from starvation. We recount all of this not to shock you or turn your stomachs but to let you know how truly bad the situation is and how much help is needed. Many of these animals are so scared they are virtually impossible to get without a catchpole, which we ultimately used to get many. Others are quicker to come into your care and get in to crates.

Most of these guys are like your average family dog or cat who would be trusting and run right up to you if not so traumatized. And many came around to trust very shortly after arriving at the facility. They are grateful for the rescue and they seem quick to forgive and trust given what they have endured. We learned a great deal from the animal handlers about the signs of trauma in these guys and the signs of how they will respond.

Rescue efforts are split between dropping food and water for those in the streets, going to specific addresses and maintaining animals that we know are living there and breaking in to houses to get out ones we either hear inside or have been directed to check on by their “owners.”

IMAGE_1Some days the facility in Gonzalez had more room to bring animals back, other days we were instructed to get only the most critical. Those decisions were hard to make each day as all the animals out there need more help as the days pass. Many of the animals are so stressed they are starting to fight and even eat each other. Megan rescued a small dog that had been attacked by pit bulls that day-she needed to be euthanized as she arrived at the shelter. Megan stayed with her as this was done and helped offer peace in her last moments. We saw other instances in which pit bulls were beginning an attack on a yellow lab but were able to distract the pitts enough for the lab to get away- we tried to retrieve her but she had run off- hopefully to safety. There are many pit bulls down there as dog fighting is legal- many of them are as sweet as can be- like the one we mentioned that crawled right in to Pia’s lap (black and white pitt- see photos)- she is actually slated to go to the Marin Humane Society today.

In terms of Pia and Megan- well Pia definitely wins for personal injuries- the cat bite we reported earlier actually got worse and on the 2nd trip to the ER they wanted to admit her for intervals of IV antibiotics but Pia was able to cut a deal in which she would agree to take an additional antibiotics and check back in with them- phew! So that bite is healing well and responding to the meds. The US marshals we have befriended have made this the butt of many jokes and consistently instruct Pia to be careful of hamsters and other rodents- all in good fun though. Pia sustained a minor dog bit that has benefited from the antibiotics already in her system so that’s under control- the only remaining injuries to speak of were heat exhaustion, some cuts from breaking glass windows and being side swiped by a car as she was running across a street- this was a very lucky situation indeed- and what happened basically amounted to being punched in the jaw and arm by a car- Pia was a bit dizzy but since we had Dave Kaplowitz nearby in the field, who is a doctor- he was able to check her out and simply said to monitor things- so she is fine just a little stunned and very, very grateful.

That is all for now- we are seriously considering returning over the next weeks if we can cover the costs  – anyone interested in coming along or making a trip there sooner, please do so!!!!!!! Megan’s brother-in-law, Casey McDonald joined us for a few days and rescued many animals in that time!!! We can instruct you on the specifics if needed.


Next up: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #6, #7: Back to Business


Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #2, #3 – Getting Down to Business

September 22, 2005

I hope you got here from Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #1: Getting Settled so you have some context. If not, I suggest you go back to the beginning (Lamar-Dixon Chronicles: Introduction). Each episode links to the next for continuity.

9/22/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #2

The news is not as good tonight. I’m forwarding the following update from Wendy’s husband and Tammy Wilson (with minor edits):

Day 3, Thursday: “Mike here, Wendy’s husband. I talked to Wendy today just after lunch their time. She asked me to send an update to you and all others concerned. They are doing OK but have their hands full with all the rescue dogs. The majority of them are Pit bulls and are not really used to being taken care of, many of them could have been strays that may not of had homes before the storm. Wendy mentioned something like feral cats. She also said that they may need to evacuate later today or soon because of Rita, the next hurricane. Sandy is being given the title of barn captain and Wendy will assist her in running the operation of that barn, which has upwards of 900 dogs, crates stacked onto of each other. Lots of cleaning, walking and feeding going on and you can bet that’s just a part of the daily routine there. Well keep them in your prayers as I will and lets hope the next storm moves farther west from them otherwise Texas will be next. Wendy also mentioned that they need more help if anybody has some time to donate, and also some extra funds to pass along for future volunteers.”

“Tammy just got the call from Wendy, they are evacuating now. They will take the RV and rental car and are heading north, destination unknown. I guess that it is mandatory, but she was in a rush and could not talk anymore. I think we need to pray for all people and animals that may be in harm’s way. And also for their safety in this risky endeavor.”

I tracked Rita all day and watched as its path shifted farther and farther east. It still appeared that they would be well outside the worst of it, and would get drenched and suffer some 25-30mph winds, but that’s about it. I guess that circumstance has changed. I’m glad they are moving north, although I shudder to consider the fate of the animals (and people) that are being left behind. Hopefully the relocation will be temporary and they can get back to what they’re doing very soon. The good news is that it appears that Houston isn’t going to be slammed as much as originally thought, so they should be able to get out of there next week.

9/22/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #3

Forwarded from Nancy Campanile:

“Here is a Sandy story as told by Marty, her mom: Sandy had a busy stressful day with only one break after a 12 hour stretch. She said it is very hot and everyone is starting to panic about the new hurricane. She said when people come to look for their animals you just can’t look at them because they look shell-shocked. She has 375 pets in her barn. She said you can not imagine the stories. Breaks your heart. One man found his dog there and for some reason he can’t get it out so he just stays there in the barn.”

“She was talking so fast it was hard to keep the stories straight. She said the whole thing is just utter confusion. She had a pretty stressful day but she says there are people there who have had the day she had today for weeks. She says they are better people than she is. She says it is going to be very hard to leave there.”

“They have a border collie there that they have listed as an Australian Shepherd. Said the owner will never find it because they have the wrong breed on it. She is going to get the name of the person who is the head of that barn and have me get in touch with Pat Cook and Border Collie rescue to see if they might be able to get the dog.”

“One dog ate all of his paper work. She was on her hands & knees trying to find some little piece of paper that might have some numbers on it, but no luck.”

Next up: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #4, #5: Hunkered Down in Mississippi


Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #1- Getting Settled

September 22, 2005

I hope you got here from Lamar-Dixon Chronicles: The Story Begins so you have some context. If not, I suggest you go back to the beginning (Lamar-Dixon Chronicles: Introduction). Each episode links to the next for continuity.

After the first round of discussions and fundraising, I started sending out email updates almost every day as I got reports from our volunteers in Louisiana. That is when the story got its name – the Lamar-Dixon Chronicles.

As an additional challenge for both the volunteers and the regional, Hurricane Rita decided to make an appearance. At first it appeared just to affect their travel plans as it swept through Houston, but as you’ll see soon, it dealt another devastating blow on the whole gulf coast and required our volunteers to evacuate. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

9/22/05: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #1

The good news is that all three missionaries have arrived safe and sound, although not completely without incident or adventure.

Day 1 (Tuesday): Sandy and Wendy got their first unexpected event before they even got out of the Bay Area. Apparently, Wendy’s airplane had been hit by lightning on its prior leg and had to be grounded.  This obviously caused a delay (and more than a little consternation) while they waited for another aircraft to be commissioned.  When they finally arrived at New Orleans, the airport was desolate – nobody around except for employees and other folks from their flight.  That made the baggage pickup and rental car procurement easy.

Our Lamar-Dixon Home (photo by Wendy V)

They arrived at the site to find the RV in place, and described the expo center as a three-ring circus. Nancy Campanile provided these additional details:


9/21/05: Sandy update – from Louisiana (Email from Nancy C)

HI all …thought you would like a little update from Sandy….

Sandy says they had RV problems last night and didn’t get it taken care of until 1:30am so they didn’t work yesterday. She says they started working this morning and at 10:00am; she was asked to work with aggressive dogs and then at 11:00 they asked her to be a barn manager. The shelter is located in horse barns at a fairgrounds and the dogs are in cages stacked in the horse stalls.  It is very hot and there are tons of supplies.

Food, crates etc and no organization. She said it is organized confusion. She said they weren’t expecting anymore animals in now. I guess they feel any that can be rescued, have been rescued. They work in teams.; one walks the dog and the other cleans the cages and put in food and water. She said that all the dogs in her barn got two walks today.

Tomorrow, she wanted to see it they can get the supplies organized. It took her and Wendy 1 1/2 hours to get all their supplies ready to start to work. She is a little worried about the flight home as they are supposed to connect in HOUSTON. Her mom will keep her updated with the hurricane reports as they do not get any news at all.


Typical Scene Outside Barn

I have an image of trucks and supplies and animals and people everywhere.  They were asked to start work immediately that evening, but they wisely opted instead to get acquainted with the RV and settle in for what would likely be their last decent sleep of the week.  I know that Sandy didn’t sleep the night before she left, because I got an e-mail from her at 3:15am. The RV is no luxury mobile, lacking a TV or even a car radio. And they were unable to get the generator started (the RV problems Nancy referenced). They were able to relocate at least temporarily to a parking spot with a plug-in, but they may get thrown out of there and then the generator repair will become a high priority.

Day 2 (Wednesday): Sarah left this morning from Oakland, with a scheduled 2-hour layover in Houston. She says Houston-Hobby is a zoo – Houston has already implemented voluntary evacuations for Rita, so everybody is trying to get out of there. Fortunately, not many of them are trying to get to New Orleans so her flight was unaffected. During her flight, she met a shelter worker from Napa who is going to stay in a tent on the grounds! A woman no less, braver than most, I’d say.

I want to add a couple of things to the update that Nancy sent. Any of us who spent time at Power Paws Camp when Sandy was Camp Manager are not the least bit surprised that she was promoted to Barn Manager within an hour of beginning work. Also, I’m hopeful that Rita won’t affect their trip home. If it hits the coast on Friday night as expected, it should be worn out by that time. Unless it completely takes out the airport, they should be OK by Monday/Tuesday as scheduled.

Financial Update: Because of the incredible generosity of everybody remotely involved with these three (with money still coming in), it looks like our funding will exceed their expenses, barring any unexpected costs if fleeing from Rita becomes an issue. We have a couple of choices: leave the money behind with the rescue organizations as originally proposed, or challenge two or three more people to follow them in for a second shift. We’ve already had interest from a vet tech in SoCal who wants to go, but doesn’t want to go alone. If anybody is seriously interested, I suspect we can drum up more mileage awards for the airfare (one person already volunteered), and we can probably arrange to rent the RV for another week. Think about it and let me know.

Next up: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #2, #3: Getting Down to Business