After Hurricane Katrina hit, I was worried about people, but my family can tell you I was also terribly worried about animals. When I came down here last year, I volunteered at the Humane Society of South Mississippi, where they were trying their best to care for the flood of stray animals and surrenders created by the storm, as well as a springtime-like number of post-storm puppies and kittens (because dogs will be dogs and cats will be cats when left to their own devices).
St. Casserole’s younger pets are all storm babies who were looking for homes in the early fall. Here’s a picture of the sweet doggie brought home by Mr. C and their LS while the women of the family were still evacuated.
She came from a shelter further north, as there was still no running water here for quite some time, and all animals at the Humane Society had been evacuated, too.
Thursday I visited the new facility belonging to the Humane Society of South Mississippi. It was already under construction before Hurricane Katrina hit, and generous donations after the storm, as well as the interest of the national Humane Society, allowed for its completion.
Last year I was walking dogs housed in its old and over-crowded headquarters, bemoaning the number of puppies and mama dogs and strays and surrenders and cats, cats, cats, all in need of homes. Puppies were being shipped north to find good homes. Both employees and volunteers from all over the country worked hard to keep things clean and safe for sweet dogs and cats and scary ones, too.
Now the animals looking for homes are all housed in a gorgeous and immaculate home in another part of town. They still need donations, of course, and if you are so moved, the link above will tell you how to make one. The HSSM is offering spaying/neutering for $10, to encourage people not to have unwanted puppies and kittens. Of course it costs them much more than $10 for the time and supplies needed for the surgeries. Meanwhile they continue to deal with many strays, because in a place where all the fences blew down, and a roof is a greater priority than a fence, it’s easy to take off on an adventure or a ramble if you are four-footed and so inclined. The Humane Society is micro-chipping every pet leaving its doors, but still there are unidentified animals who come to them and end up needing new homes.
My heart was captured by a young adult Rottweiler, Apollo, who barked a hearty and friendly "Hey!" when he saw me walking by.
I cannot take him home, but I inquired about what it would cost to adopt him and made a donation of about the same amount.
I wish there were more I could do for dogs and cats who are without homes. I know I can’t understand losing this friendly boy and not coming to look for him. But my life is settled and relatively non-chaotic, and that is not how it is here 16 months after Katrina. There is still a great deal of sorting out to do, of houses and neighborhoods and, most of all, lives.
(Thanks to St. Casserole for getting me the pictures below, taken around the time the new facility opened.)