Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Night Time at Gonzales

Late Wed. evening---The temperature dropped slightly, but it's still hot and humid. Toni and Kate spent some time exploring the other pavilions at Lamar-Dixon. They found over 400 horses are stabled there, along with some of the French Quarter mules. Although they had repeatedly asked various volunteers where the exotic animals, like rabbits, were being held, no one knew. Most volunteers told them that no exotics were being held at Gonzales. One woman said she had been there two weeks and never seen a bird or a rabbit.

Still, they discovered the exotics pavillion, tucked into a corner of pavillion #1, where the cats are housed. From Toni's journal: "There are dozens of doves, several parrots, a few chicken and ducks--and a stall full of rabbits, hamster, rats, ferrets, turtles and guinea pigs. 11 rabbits are housed here, including one who is going to give birth any day now. All of them are living in un-air-conditioned quarters in this heat, with just a roof over their heads. Several box fans are blowing on them....Someone has been smart enough to freeze water bottles and put them in the cages with the rabbits, to try to cut down on heat stroke.

"We're concerned for these animals, but due to bureaucratic red tape, NO animal is allowed to be released to any rescue group. A vet rushes by us, calling out for Critical Care. She is carrying a sickly guinea pig. We give her our only jar from the van. She thanks us and heads for the medical pavillion. "

Back at the main desk, a man arrived carrying a tortoise he had found. The person manning the desk said that no turtles or tortoises were at Gonzales, but Kate told them that actually all the exotics were housed in pavillion #1.

According to Louisiana state law, none of these animals--dogs, cats, rabbits, birds--will be allowed to leave Gonzales for at least another 14 days, in case their human companions come looking for them.

Finally, the two were back on the road to Baton Rouge, a 20 minute drive, where they will be staying the night at the house of Cathy Wells of Cat Haven. In two days, Toni and Kate have traveled over 900 miles and ended up in a completely different universe.

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