Thanks so much to Cathy of Cat Haven who offered our volunteers a comfortable place to rest their heads last night after an exhausting and emotionally-charged day!
You can learn more about Cat Haven here: http://www.cathaven.org/about.htm
This morning Toni and Kate traveled to Lousiana State University's staging area in Baton Rouge to help out and to look for any surrendered animals that they can bring back to Chicago. There is a veterinary school there, so medical care was plentiful. Still, with hundreds of animals--some abandoned, some rescued, some temporarily surrendered--to care for, the need for volunteers was great.
Quickly, however, they learned that no animals would be released from LSU, either. Because of animal theft, no one--not even the owner of a pet--was allowed to remove any animal from L.S.U.'s care. Dogs were in cages inside the sports coliseum, lined up according to breed; cats were in cages that lined the hallways of the vet school. There was no air conditioning in the coliseum, but box fans were being used. Both here and at the Lamar-Dixon staging area they report that the police and military presence is a little scary. Still, these groups are doing the best they can.
From Toni's journal: "The difference between Lamar-Dixon and L.S.U. is night and day. Everything here is very organized. You sign up to work a specific shift, have a group orientation, and then are escorted to your assigned duty....We spoke to an exotics veterinarian about the conditions at Lamar Dixon and our concern for the exotics animals there. This vet said that a team of doctors were going to Lamar Dixon that night to help with medical exams. She promised us that they would check on the exotics and try to get them transferred to L.S.U."
Later today they traveled west of Baton Rouge to Lafayette, where they met up with some animal rescue groups, including Zoo-Zoom Exotic Animal Rescue. Because the hurricane evacuation route from New Orleans runs west through Lafayette and on to Houston, many evacuees gave up their pets at the Lafayette Humane Society, which had a staging area in Blackham Arena. Any surrendered exotic animal was transferred to Zoo-Zoom, an exotic animal rescue farm run by Brett and Lori Matte.
Zoo-Zoom has hundreds of animals: rabbits, ferrets, chickens, wallabies, deer, goats, potbelly pigs, ducks and sugar gliders. Kate and Toni happily took two rabbits and two cockatiels who had been surrendered by their owners. Three box turtles almost joined the Red Door crowd, but at the last moment the turtles were determined to be too little to make the trip. The birds and rabbits will be joined by two cats rescued by Cat Haven, and all will begin the journey back to Chicago tomorrow.