Animals Protected from Gustav’s Fury

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Yarmouth Port, MA
Years of preparation and a well-executed plan proved too much for Hurricane Gustav. The deadly storm that wreaked havoc in the Caribbean made landfall in Cocodrie, Louisiana, as a Category 2 hurricane and, for a moment, brought back painful memories of Hurricane Katrina.

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org ) played a vital role in safeguarding the lives of more than 1,300 animals as a mandatory evacuation set the stage for a massive exodus of both people and their pets.

IFAW worked together with the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART), which set up a megashelter in Shreveport just days before Hurricane Gustav’s landfall. Established on the Louisiana State Fairgrounds, the shelter was equipped to handle as many as 3,000 animals. The facility included dog kennels, a cat area and an “exotics” section which housed parrots, reptiles and homing pigeons. IFAW's animal rescue trailer, funded by Petfinder.com Foundation, was stationed in Louisiana to provide much needed support to the 10-person team of trained responders involved in the operation.

“This is a historic milestone for animals and people: For the first time in the history of Louisiana, all 12 coastal parishes were successfully evacuated and given safe shelter,” said Dr. Dick Green, Disaster Response Manager for IFAW. “We have shown that people and their pets can evacuate safely and that preparation is vital preceding a disaster of this magnitude. Owners are encouraged to always include their pets in their Family Disaster Plan.”

 “Many lessons were learned since Hurricane Katrina, and pet owners have continually expressed their appreciation to our Shreveport shelter staff for the organized and efficient way they registered and kept track of hundreds of pets,” said Dr. Becky Adcock, LSART’s deputy director. “The kindness and attention they’ve shown to each individual animal has calmed the nerves and lifted evacuees’ spirits during a very difficult and anxious period.”

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