May 23rd, 2011
We still have our eyes trained on the Mississippi River, watching it rise slowly, but steadily. UAN has officially demobilized from the emergency shelter in Natchez, Mississippi and transferred operations to our partners and the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society. Animals are still coming into the shelter and a few are going home, but everybody is still in waiting mode to see what the river will do. If it does crest the levee, flooding will be a very slow process and everyone is packed and ready to evacuate if and when needed.
This deployment was so different from the hoarding and puppy mill rescues UAN has undertaken lately. It’s so easy to give your heart over to an animal who has experienced neglect and cruelty for most, if not all, of his life. The animals we worked with in Natchez are all owned and very, very loved, but we still fell for each and every one of them.
Cooter, the basset hound who made it clear when he needed to go for a walk; Roscoe, the bloodhound who was used to spending his days roaming the fields and was terribly confused by the whole leash thing; Cassie, the pretty Calico who did rollies and stretchies whenever we were near; Deuce the bossy dachshund who thought he was a rottweiler; and Doll Face, a stray with demodex mange who came in from an evacuated foster home. These animals and more all caught our attention and inspired the volunteers to give and give, then give some more.
I was in awe as I watched the UAN volunteers get to know each animal so quickly, learn their likes, dislikes and quirks and most of all, treat them as they would their own pets. They spent time with them on walks, going at the animal’s own pace if he was frightened or caught on to an interesting scent. They sat in the grass with the older guys, making sure they had quality time out of their kennels. The cats had a constant supply of toys, treats, pets and snuggles. Even the feral cats who were surrendered to us improved dramatically each day as the volunteers sat with them and slowly earned their trust.
While we hope and pray that the levees hold and the waters recede, the volunteers should be proud of their work through the long days in heat and humidity, making sure all of “their buddies” stayed safe and happy while separated from their families. Becoming a temporary family and treating all of these animals like their own pets was difficult and draining for the volunteers, however, seeing the contentment of the animals and the gratitude of the owners made it all worth it.