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Old October 18th, 2005, 07:15 PM
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twodogsandacat twodogsandacat is offline
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Back from Hell and Highwater - Official slogan of Slidell Hurricane Relief

I returned from Slidell a couple of weeks ago but couldn't post right away as it was hard to write this down but here it is. A short account of my trip Louisiana. Noah's Wish will be ther until mid November so if you want to volunteer - Noahswish.org.

Slidell – Back from Hell and Highwater

Slidell Louisiana is located directly across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Weather Service reported that Slidell had sustained winds of 176 mph and gusts of 190+ mph . In addition, Slidell was hit by a 23' - 26' storm surge. An estimated 30-50 percent of residents were left homeless. Had levees in New Orleans not broken smaller cities like Slidell likely would of headed the news on CNN.


On September 22 I drove into Slidell. I had arrived twelve hours before a mandatory evacuation of the southern part of the city. A second Hurricane named Rita was on her way and Slidell prepared for more flooding, high winds and possible tornadoes although the eye of the hurricane itself was projected to hit Texas.

Noah’s Wish
A not for profit organization by the name of Noah’s Wish (noahswish.org) whose mission is to rescue and care for animals in disasters has been working alongside Slidell Animal Control to save and care for as many animals as they could. Additionally they handed out pet food, crates and anything else pet owners needed as supplies in town were still limited. So far over a thousand animals have been cared for at the Slidell site

I had come to Slidell to care for animals being housed in a temporary shelter in a vacant warehouse. These were surrendered, abandoned and rescued animals. Joining them were animals being temporally housed for owners unable to care for them. Owners such as the 75 year old man who was now living in his truck - a truck he shared with his three dogs for three days before he found Noah’s Wish. The only charity he would accept was that somebody would care for his animals while he went about getting his life back in order. His lakefront home was gone and all he wanted to know was that his dogs were OK. They were.
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Big Dog Section - Pit Bull Kisses
I was quickly welcomed and joined quite a few fellow Canadians from British Columbia in the understaffed big dog section. These Canadians (many professional animal care workers) were in Louisiana repaying a heartfelt debt to Noah’s Wish who had rescued and cared for thousands of animals in the 2003- 2004 forest fires in British Columbia. Many had since joined the organization. I walked though the warehouse where hundreds of cats, small dogs, birds, rodents and even a tarantula were housed and out the back door into a tent city known as the ‘big dog’ section. Hundreds of dogs, pit bulls, bull dogs, shepherds, rottweilers, labs, boxers and hounds.

As I looked at the numbers and types of dogs housed here I knew I was about to put my objections to Ontario’s recent pit bull ban to the test. Day one was spent preparing for Rita and was described as the most physically demanding day at the shelter. All the effort moving dogs and crates inside an already overpopulated building, moving many more against the outside walls, tarping them up and moving sandbags was thankfully unnecessary as Rita passed by without any real affect on the shelter. Still you prepare with the information you have at the time. Parts of Slidell had some flooding that quickly undid days of previous cleanup effort.

By day two I was over any concern I may have had regarding unfamiliar pit bulls and for the duration of my stay I endured many a pit bull attack from these clownish dogs. Despite meeting hundreds of pit bulls in Ontario over the last year I had never let a single strange dog get near my face. However these were traumatized dogs starving for human contact and when an attention-starved pit bull wanted hugs and kisses he got hugs and kisses. If Ontario didn'tt have a ban I would of returned with a truck to get as many of these out as possible.

Devastation beyond belief
As Rita passed by more volunteers arrived and day two was easier. At lunch time I was taken on a tour of the local area. In less than a five minute drive down a couple of city streets we arrived at what could only be described as a war zone. I had already seen much damage but as I slowly drove the Suburban down now cleared streets of these waterfront neighbourhoods I was speechless in disbelief. Houses were totally destroyed, missing entirely or had become part of huge debris fields stretching out for thousands of feet. Any remaining structure had the familiar orange search and rescue markings indicating that the house had been searched. If you have never seen the effects of a hurricane in person CNN doesn’t prepare you for it. I never returned to this part of town because I saw all I cared to see the first and only time I saw it.

You can’t keep a good dog down
A pair of traumatized Catahoula dogs (A native Louisianan breed) quickly became two of my special cases. Pulled from floodwaters in a devastated area of town they were eventually surrendered for adoption by the owner. Curled up and shaking in the back of their cages they would simply stare at each other. The female could be coaxed out of her crate but would drop to the ground within two feet She would be picked her up and carried to the walking area where we would sit as she would push against me. I never saw their tails anyplace other than tucked up between the back legs.

The day before I left a rescue volunteer from Norfolk Virginia was about to share a ride home with a New Yorker and had secured a ride for the male but there was no room for the female. Hastily we came up with a plan. Two days later after an overnight stay in Atlanta and with mixed emotions I handed her over in Fancy Gap Virginia and continued on my way home to Canada.

They were not reunited because the behaviourist for the rescue felt it would delay their necessary bonding with humans. They were however both placed in loving foster homes. The female (now named Cali) was described in a recent email as ‘a handful that they can’t live without’ and adopted by the foster family. Attached is a picture of her with her new best buddy. The first thing I saw was that her tail was no longer hidden between her legs. Her brother now named Leonard is also doing fine.

Everything happens for a reason
Responding to an email from work from inside the cat area I closed with an offer for a cat. A co-worker emailed back yes. I then went shopping for adoptable cats. The first offered was a mother who had just stopped nursing her now old enough kittens. We were interrupted and I was taken to an off limits mobile clinic and shown two kittens. My partner had specifically asked for one of the harder to adopt adult cats so I declined as kittens would of course be easier to find homes for.

It was explained that these kittens had just gotten over a minor cold and so could not be housed with the other cat’s in an overcrowded shelter where immune systems may already be weakened, They were also taking up valuable space in the clinic – I would be doing them all a favour. The next morning after saying my goodbyes I went to the clinic to pick them up still feeling bad for the mother cat I didn’t take. As I looked at another cage there she was - now nursing some tiny orphaned kittens she willing adopted as her own. The guilt washed away so I grabbed my kittens and dog, stuffed them all into a Toyota Echo and headed North.

Easy going to Slidell – Hard to Leave

In the coming weeks more animals will be reunited with their owners, others will be placed in foster homes and many will head to shelters across the USA and Canada and be adopted out. Noah’s Wish has a 100% claim or rehome rate.

Slidell will be rebuilt although it may take years. The first thing to go up after a hurricane is the flag and they were everywhere you looked. Soon they will be flying over rebuilt homes and businesses. Noah’s Wish has offered to build Slidell a new shelter as Katrina destroyed the original and I am confident that one will surely fly there too. I will return to see it.

I miss the people I met down there, the animals I cared for and the city itself but most of all I miss those pit bull kisses.

"saving one dog or cat won't change the world, but it will change the world for that dog or cat"
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Last edited by twodogsandacat; October 18th, 2005 at 07:35 PM.
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Old October 18th, 2005, 07:28 PM
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Thanks for being there, something I think alot of us wish we could have done. Your a special person
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Old October 18th, 2005, 07:34 PM
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I went to Baton Rouge to help with children with cancer and I so know what you mean when CNN pictures do not prepare you. It's just so much worse!!! And watching TV does not let you smell or experience the undercurrent of fear, anger, panic and worrying about the unknown that permeates the place.

I keep in touch with the friends I made - and of course a close friend who I encouraged to leave New Orleans - but I have yet been unable to write about my experience. Tears well up when I do so I am leaving it for a bit.

Welcome back!!
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Old October 18th, 2005, 11:53 PM
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twodogsandacat twodogsandacat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CyberKitten
I went to Baton Rouge to help with children with cancer and I so know what you mean when CNN pictures do not prepare you. It's just so much worse!!!
Far worse.

I know that Katrina played havoc with scheduled treatments for a lot of cancer patients. I hope they get the help they need. They called her a 'bitch' and I have to agree.
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Old October 18th, 2005, 11:53 PM
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twodogsandacat twodogsandacat is offline
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Wow it let me type the word bitch. That's new.
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Old October 18th, 2005, 11:57 PM
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It's a female dog and we're a pet board...

Twodogs, it's amazing that you went down there to help. For your sake, I hope Karma exists in a huge way.
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Old October 19th, 2005, 09:10 AM
Luvmypit Luvmypit is offline
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Two dogs.. I was so inspired by your stories. I want more!!!

Cyber and Two dogs We are so proud of you all. It must have taken such a toll emotionaly. I can only imagine as I read your thread tears welled up. I would have been a wreck down there and would have been no help! It certainly takes a certain person.

Does Noahs wish have Canadian roots also? Are they mainly for disaster releief. I like any animal org. that has a 100% rehome rate.
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Old October 19th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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The words aren't coming today....the emotions are though!....all I can say is THANKYOU!....Thankyou, Thankyou.....
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Old October 19th, 2005, 12:48 PM
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Thanks so much for the personal experience with Noahs Wish. I first became aware of this organization during the fires in San Diego. Everything I have heard and read has been positive and I have made my donations through their website. They go all over the world wherever natural disasters have hit to help the pets and pet owners. It's good to have someone from the board with first hand experiences validate the terrific work this organization performs. Your personal contribution of time and labor is the best! Kudos to both you and CK!
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