Thursday, September 22, 2005

Pia and Megan Home for a Few Days - September 22


Hi Everyone- We arrived back from New Orleans at 4 this morning (9/22) and wanted to say hello, update you and thank you for your emotional and financial support.

In re-reading the e-mail we wrote on 9/15, it seems like years ago- Re: the dog we mentioned setting out to get that day, though the info relayed by Abbie at 1-800-Save-a-Pet.com - we were able to get him! His name is Peatie and he was loyally guarding his abandoned water-logged home- he was in the front yard when we arrived with the US Marshall assisting us, as it was after dark and we were beyond the curfew- he immediately ran inside- we ultimately found him pressed up against a set of drawers in the bedroom corner. We got a loop around his neck and eventually he came with us walking low to the ground and with tail between his legs. His eyes were really bugged out which a handler later described as a phenomena called ‘whale eye’ that happens under extreme stress and heightened awareness- we saw this in so many of the dogs- they share many of the signs of trauma seen in humans- exaggerated startle response, etc. Peatie has since been re-united with his mother- hooray! ( He is the red-colored dog in the car with Megan and Pia.)

Following Peatie’s rescue we got a call from Peatie's neighbor who asked that we find his Jack Russell mix, Jack. He recounted the heartbreaking tale of how he had been forced to leave Jack behind on a bridge. He had placed Jack in a bag and was about to be rescued off of a bridge where many people and their pets were awaiting rescue. Jack was quietly hidden in a bag and an officer forced him to open the bag and place Jack on the bridge if he wished to be rescued himself. Glenn, Jack’s dad, pleaded but the officer wouldn’t hear it and Glenn relinquished Jack instructing him to go home and wait for him. Glenn recounted how so many people were forced to do the same with little animals that could easily have been carried to safety. He also told of the larger dogs who were behaving well and staying with owners or frantically trying to attach themselves to people to get saved but were not allowed to leave. Ironically, Glenn was permitted to take the very same bag with him that Jack had been hidden in- so the issue of not having the room for these animals was ridiculous. Animals are considered property under the law, like a TV or chair- we could understand if you could not take you TV b/c it took up too much room- but in this case the authorities essentially determined which property one could take -and they permitted a bag that took the same space, over a dog who would have been rescued in that space- this should be criminal. The law must be changed regarding this status!!!!! Glenn explained that to a female trooper near him and she pleaded with the authorities, explaining that this made no sense and asking why- but she too was shut down. So animals frantically ran up and down that bridge watching as their “owners” were forced to leave them- many making promises to return for them. Jack heeded his dad’s instruction a returned to his house blocks away and waited. We found him under the car- right where Glenn said he would be- he quietly ran behind the house but we were able to lure him out with potato chips, as Glenn said these were his favorite. He has since been reunited with is dad who drove in from Texas to retrieve him- hooray!!! Ironically, Jack had been adopted by Glenn following another flood that he was rescued from!

Among the other rescues were sickly or injured kittens and countless dogs with chemical burns from the water- David Meyer rescued some skinny caged birds earlier today-Unfortunately our days were also punctuated with sighting of dogs still on chains, having drowned trying to get free, injured cats, etc. It is very hard to tolerate and I sob as I recount this—too too much to wrap one's mind around. There are many kittens and puppies, too, with their faithful nursing mamas and papas staying to protect them and dragging the open cans of food we leave under houses to feed them. Unfortunately there have been some instances in which mother dogs are attacking their puppies over food, though. The US Marshals assisting us recounted a case like this but they were able to get the puppy and bring it to a vet triage set up. Another sad sight we saw all too often were live dogs sitting by decomposing dogs who were likely their friends and companions- who had clearly died from starvation.

We recount all of this not to shock you or turn your stomachs but to let you know how truly bad the situation is and how much help is needed. Many of these animals are so scared they are virtually impossible to get without a catchpole, which we ultimately used to get many. Others are quicker to come into your care and get in to crates. Most of these guys are like your average family dog or cat who would be trusting and run right up to you if not so traumatized. And many came around to trust very shortly after arriving at the facility. They are grateful for the rescue and they seem quick to forgive and trust given what they have endured. We learned a great deal from the animal handlers about the signs of trauma in these guys and the signs of how they will respond.

Rescue efforts are split between dropping food and water for those in the streets, going to specific addresses and maintaining animals that we know are living there and breaking in to houses to get out ones we either hear inside or have been directed to check on by their “owners.” Some days the facility in Gonzalez had more room to bring animals back, other days we were instructed to get only the most critical. Those decisions were hard to make each day as all the animals out there need more help as the days pass. Many of the animals are so stressed they are starting to fight and even eat each other. Megan rescued a small dog that had been attacked by pit bulls that day-she needed to be euthanized as she arrived at the shelter. Megan stayed with her as this was done and helped offer peace in her last moments. We saw other instances in which pit bulls were beginning an attack on a yellow lab but were able to distract the pitts enough for the lab to get away- we tried to retrieve her but she had run off- hopefully to safety. There are many pit bulls down there as dog fighting is tolerated (illegal but, tolerated)- many of them are as sweet as can be- like the one we mentioned that crawled right in to Pia’s lap (she is actually slated to go to the Marin humane society today).

In terms of Pia and Megan- well Pia definitely wins for personal injuries- the cat bite we reported earlier actually got worse and on the 2nd trip to the ER they wanted to admit her for intervals of IV antibiotics but Pia was able to cut a deal in which she would agree to take an additional antibiotics and check back in with them- phew! So that bite is healing well and responding to the meds. The US marshals we have befriended have made this the butt of many jokes and consistently instruct Pia to be careful of hamsters and other rodents- all in good fun though. Pia sustained a minor dog bite that has benefited from the antibiotics already in her system so that’s under control. The only remaining injuries to speak of were heat exhaustion, some cuts from breaking glass windows and being sideswiped by a car as she was running across a street- this was a very lucky situation indeed- and what happened basically amounted to being punched in the jaw and arm by a car. Pia was a bit dizzy, but since we had Dave Kaplowitz, who is a doctor, nearby in the field, he was able to check her out and simply said to monitor things. So she is fine-just a little stunned and very, very grateful.

That is all for now- we are going to be returning next week IF we can cover the costs - anyone interested in coming along or making a trip there sooner, please do so!!!!!!! Megan brother in law, Casey McDonald joined us for a few days and rescued many animals in that time!!! We can instruct you on the specifics if needed. Thank you again for everything!
And the animals thank you most!

Much love, Pia and Megan

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