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by Mikaela Olsson, staff writer

The numbers were staggering: 8,000 animals were displaced in Louisiana and Mississippi, and more than 1,000 volunteers came to help with the animals. The Louisiana SPCA set up a temporary shelter at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, LA, normally the site for festivals and horse shows.
Rescuers scoured New Orleans for lost pets and brought them to the temporary shelter 25 miles from the city. The Expo’s huge open barns were lined with pet crates, carriers and cages filled with lost pets, some scared and some barking for attention. There were no beds or air conditioning, but there was a building with several showers and a cafeteria. Supplies and volunteers were plentiful, as groups and corporations generously gave what was needed.

According to its Web site, Noah’s Wish steps in when pets owners are not able to safely evacuate their animals, do not have a place to shelter them after they have been evacuated, or when human evacuation shelters do not allow animals. The not-for-profit organization was established in 1983 by Terri Crisp, a California homemaker, to rescue pets when their owners can’t be there for them.

Noah’s Wish is located in Placerville, Calif., about 40 miles east of Sacramento. Crisp is a veteran of 66 major disasters, including the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and the December 2005 Southeast Asian tsunami. Her knowledge of animal rescue and care during disasters, and her ability to interact and coordinate efforts with emergency response personnel, health and welfare agencies, and local animal organizations makes Noah’s Wish an unparalleled resource for animals.
Noah’s Wish is not the only organization that came to the animals’ rescue after Hurricane Katrina. Three employees of the Hawaiian Humane Society spent a week in Louisiana caring for animals displaced by the wind and flood waters: Lisa Okamura, a veterinary technician; Johnny Diaz, who processes incoming animals; and Cindy Kantor, an adoptions counselor.

When a disaster like Hurricane Katrina hits, “everyone knows they need to help,” said Kantor. “Some help by giving money, some donate supplies, water and food; I helped by giving my time.”
The three were sent in response to a call from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Since HSUS does not operate any shelters, there was a tremendous need for experienced shelter workers and veterinarian staff.

Noah’s Wish’s serviced animals in Slidell, Louisiana at St. Tammy’s parish. Right after Hurricane Katrina struck, they rescued more than 750 animals and put them in temporary housing at Camp Katrina, the Red Cross Family Assistance Center at the former Lowry Air Force Base.
Noah’s Wish, like the wish of all animal volunteers, is eventually to reunite all the animals with their rightful owner. If that is not possible they’ll put the animals up for adoption.


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