IFAW: Katrina one year later

August 27th, 2006 2:17 pm by Kelly Garbato

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Fred O’Regan, International Fund for Animal Welfare – fred [at] ifaw1.org
Date: Aug 27, 2006 12:06 PM
Subject: Katrina one year later

International Fund for Animal Welfare, August 25, 2006

Katrina one year later

This week marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. As I look back on both the tragic event itself and the weeks that followed the disaster on the Gulf Coast of the United States, I am filled with both pride and resolve.

Pride. Approximately 15,000 animals were rescued by IFAW and other humane organizations under extremely challenging conditions. Despite its many tragedies, Katrina served as an example to all how far people will go to risk their lives for their animals. This was a wake-up call to government that pets cannot be treated like property.

And just a few weeks ago, the U.S. Senate passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which requires local and state disaster plans to include provisions for household pets and service animals in the event of a major disaster or emergency. This bill will now go back to the House for consideration and you can urge Congress to show its support here.

Resolve. Despite these incredible successes, an estimated 250,000 pets were left on their own to fend for themselves in an abandoned city after Katrina hit. The hurricane exposed the gap between owners’ devotion to their pets and the inability of shelters and rescue officials to provide for them.

People must have a plan for evacuating a major disaster with their pets. Leaving them behind should not be an option.

Here are a few of the things IFAW is currently working on now to help make sure pets are not forgotten when the next disaster strikes:

* Organizing and training NGOs in better animal search and rescue techniques as well as how to provide more efficient and safer emergency shelters.

* IFAW, along with several other major humane organizations, initiated collaborative spay and neuter efforts in the US gulf coast states of Louisiana and Mississippi. We are also conducting a survey of pet owners in the area to determine where animal welfare education is most needed.

The two year collaborative project includes voucher programs that use local vets, fixed high volume clinics servicing a 90 miles radius in each state and a mobile spay and neuter clinic servicing areas not provided for by the fixed clinics. It is estimated that over 50,000 surgeries can be conducted in the first two years, resulting in fewer animals euthanized by local humane shelters and animal control groups. So far the voucher program has sterilized over 800 animals and distributed 1,586 vouchers in Mississippi as well as many in some of the hardest-hit parishes of New Orleans.

* IFAW has offered to be on standby for search and rescue efforts and emergency sheltering in Louisiana should disaster strike here again.

* Purchased a new trailer with state-of-the-art communications equipment that will enable us to work more efficiently with local, state and federal agencies and other NGO’s to get information out to the public quicker.

I am continuously humbled by our encounters with the survivors of natural disasters who risk everything to protect and reunite with their pets. From tales of incredible determination and courage, to stories of hope and perseverance, our animal rescue workers have been extremely privileged to be a part of so many extraordinary examples of the bond between humans and animals that clearly illustrate the compassion people have for their pets during the most difficult of times.

I thank you for being a part of this incredible recovery effort which continues today.

Sincerely,

Fred O’Regan
President and CEO, IFAW

P.S.You can read more about IFAW’s emergency relief efforts around the world, including the latest news about Katrina pets, on our new Animal Rescue Blog.

IFAW © 2006

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