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 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

Lamar-Dixon Chronicles: The Story Begins

September 19, 2005

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

9/13/05: The Original Appeal (posted on the AgileDogs list)

An appeal for help — We are running on empty here in South Louisiana and Gulf Coast animal rescue work and need volunteer help!

Veterinarians and vet techs are needed urgently at the Lamar-Dixon Center in Gonzalez, Louisiana. We also need vets and techs to relieve  the staff at the LSU Hurricane Animal Shelter. Animals arriving at Lamar  Dixon — those most recently rescued –  need people experienced with rehydration and re-feeding, also need rehydration supplies (fluids, etc) and refeeding supplies (Science Diet a/d, etc.)

If you are an  experienced animal rescue worker, shelter worker, shelter volunteer, or an  experienced amateur animal handler who is willing to scrub cages and so forth, you are needed for animal care at Lamar-Dixon. They are desperate for help. This is get-down-and-dirty work. Non-professional volunteers, please realize that this is VERY hard, dirty work. Not a situation to bring little kids to cuddle the  kittens. There will be time for that later. Right now we just  need the animals washed, clean cages, feeding and watering. Please also contact any professional humane officers you know or your local animal  control agency and urge them to send at least one officer to help with our efforts.

9/16/05: E-mail to the Bay Team membership list

BT Members going to Louisiana

Our own Sandy Rogers and Sarah Johnson, along with Wendy Vogelgesang from Southern California, are putting aside their personal and professional lives for a week to volunteer at an animal shelter in Louisiana. They are doing this all on their own financially, with no assistance from any organizations. All have managed to wrangle free flights using mileage awards, but they will have considerable expenses in addition – rental car, motorhome rental (so they have a place to stay), gas, food, inoculations, who knows what else. Not to mention lost revenue from the time away from their livelihoods.

This all started when Sandy and I were talking at the Labor Day trial, and I expressed my feeling of helplessness that I couldn’t do anything for the abandoned animals other than throw money at the organizations that are doing the work. She went one step further and said that she was even thinking about trying to go there just to help out – even if that meant scrubbing crates all day. The next day, I saw an appeal for exactly that type of help posted on the AgileDogs list [see above] and forwarded it to her. The next thing I knew, Wendy had posted a notice on the list saying that she and Sandy were going, and could anybody hook them up with an RV or trailer to stay in. Sarah got involved when I called her to say we needed to help them out with some funding – her response was “help them, hell I’m going too.”

When they actually started calculating the cost of the trip, they called the volunteer coordinator and asked if the money would be better spent if they just sent a check. To their surprise, the answer was a vehement NO – apparently the shelters have supplies, they need bodies. That clinched the decision.

I applaud these three because they’re actually doing what I wish I could do. They are all nervous and more than a little scared – after all, they are going into unknown territory with unknown mayhem to do unknown chores amid unknown horror. They will not return the same people as when they left. I can’t go with them, but I can throw a little money their way to help offset their expenses and revenue losses.

I know that many you have already shown tremendous generosity to the various organizations that I’ve posted previously, in addition to the fundraisers at the Bay Team trial. But if you have any more to spare to help them out, I know that they would be very grateful. Everything they get will go to their expenses, and if there is anything left, they will give it to whatever facilities they feel need it the most. After all, they’ll be able to see who needs it first-hand.  Obviously this isn’t tax-deductible, but that’s not going to stop me from reaching out.

Sarah and Sandy will both be at the VAST trial this weekend. If you slip one of them a $5, a $10, a $20 or a check for more, they will not turn it down and it will go directly into the pot. I’ll be at the SFDrake AKC trial helping out Wendy Gurney on and off this weekend, so you can do the same there – leave it with me or Wendy.  If you would rather use Paypal, I’ll open my account for collecting – just let me know and I’ll give you the account ID. If you think of another way to contribute (like sending a check directly to Sandy), that’ll work too.  I know this isn’t a coordinated effort, but we’ll figure out a way to get them the money. My goal is to not have this trip cost them a dime, and to let them leave a 3- or 4-figure amount behind to the groups that really need it.

Finally, Sandy wants to take a decent supply of leather slip leads – 1/2″ x 4-6′ or so. If you have one to donate to the cause, see if you can get it to VAST or AKC this weekend.

9/19/05: E-mail to the Bay Team membership

Lamar-Dixon Volunteer Mission update

The first contingent of volunteers (Sandy and Wendy) leaves tomorrow, and Sarah follows on Wednesday morning.  All three of them are scurrying around today picking up last-minute supplies, maps, etc.  Delivery of the rental RV has been confirmed so at this point, all systems are go.  Sarah’s cell phone also sends and receives e-mail [wow, remember when this was a big thing?], so hopefully they’ll be able to send me periodic updates. They won’t be eloquent or long, as she’ll be thumb-typing, and who knows what sort of connectivity they’ll have, but any information is better than none.

Any lingering reservations they had about going have been eliminated as we’ve gotten more information about the Lamar-Dixon shelter.

The first question, would the money be better spent elsewhere, has already been answered – they have plenty of supplies and money, they need bodies.  At last report, there were 2000+ animals and only 250 volunteers. As the situation has evolved and stabilized (if you can call it that), Lamar-Dixon is now the primary intake center for the hundreds of rescues that are still showing up every day. Owners that are missing pets are being told just to go there and look for them, which means that some of the volunteers are undoubtedly helping those distraught owners as well as the animals. From there, after being examined, cleaned up, treated and photographed, some of the animals are being transferred to other shelters as space becomes available.

The second question, should they hook up with a national organization such as Best Friends or Noah’s Wish rather than showing up as independents, has also been answered – those two organizations are well-staffed and working at other shelters, such as the one in Mississippi that was highlighted on Dateline last night. Lamar-Dixon is still hurting for bodies.

And I’m sure those of you who saw that Dateline segment will agree that the reward of the reunions is worth every penny and every bit of energy that they (and you) are putting into this. I recently read an account at one shelter that the reunions are just now starting to outnumber the intakes. That’s very encouraging news.

Fundraising status: at this time, we expect that their expenses will approach $3,000. So far, as a result of the generosity at the VAST and SFD AKC trials, the contribution from Everything 4 Paws, and contributions from personal friends outside of agility, we have raised just over $2,000. GREAT JOB!!! I love this community. I’m hoping that we can get some more vendors to jump on the bandwagon, and that those of you who missed the message at VAST and AKC will stop by the E4P booth at TRACS and toss a buck or two into the jar.

Next up: Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #1: Getting Settled