Jackson, Mississippi (September 6, 2005) – Working under the command of the state veterinarians in both Mississippi and Louisiana, animal disaster relief organizations are now fully engaged in the largest disaster rescue and sheltering relief effort in US history. United Animal Nations (UAN) is working alongside the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to deploy joint resources to the hard hit areas. Already UAN is running animal shelters in West Monroe, Louisiana and Jackson, Mississippi and has deployed Code 3 Associates’ 78-foot self-sufficient, mobile disaster response unit to the massive staging area in Gonzalez, Louisiana.
In daily conference calls organized by UAN, the State Veterinarian’s office in Louisiana is briefing deployed veterinary teams and humane disaster relief coordinators on the status of efforts in the southernmost portions of the state. Search, rescue and evacuation efforts are now reaching into the hardest hit areas of New Orleans and all animals are being transferred to staging areas where their veterinary needs can be met. The State has also established a large-scale, centralized call and computer center to handle the thousands of calls coming in daily from evacuees wishing to locate their missing pets.
“I feel confident at present that the Louisiana authorities who are tasked to provide disaster assistance to animals are doing what they can within their authority to coordinate their efforts and those of the humane disaster relief organizations who have been so desperate to help animals in the hurricane-ravaged areas,” said Jennifer Fearing, UAN president and CEO. “This will be a long-term operation and will require the continued coordination and goodwill with authorities in order to manage the massive number of animals that will need our collective help for months, if not years.”
One particular dog has become symbolic for all the animal lovers concerned about the status of the animals in the affected area. UAN has received hundreds of calls and e-mails expressing worry about Snowball, a little white dog who was shown on many news outlets while being taken from a small boy who was boarding an evacuee bus. According to the Louisiana State Veterinarian’s Office, Snowball is safe and in the hands of caring professionals.
UAN’s Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) has already deployed two teams to the area to manage the shelters and is prepared to activate as many of the more than 1,500 volunteers who have offered to deploy as are requested by authorities. UAN has offered thousands of dollars worth of supplies and equipment and hundreds of foster homes for animals needing temporary or permanent care. And UAN is working on a dramatic expansion of its Animal Aid program, which provides financial grants to families affected by disaster who need assistance with veterinary medical care or boarding to keep their beloved family pets.
“We at United Animal Nations are committed to doing whatever we possibly can,” continued Fearing, “to bring the generosity of our members and volunteers to the benefit of this tragic disaster’s innocent animal victims in keeping with our pledge to bring animals out of crisis and into care.”
About UAN (United Animal Nations)
Founded in 1987, UAN is the nation’s leading provider of emergency animal sheltering and disaster relief services and a key advocate for the critical needs of animals. UAN is appealing for donations to its disaster relief fund, which will provide immediate assistance and long-term individual and organizational grants to Hurricane Katrina victims. To donate, visit www.uan.org or phone (916) 429-2457.