Thursday, September 07, 2006

Animal Crisis Occuring

12/22 An accurate view of the Coast, not just NOLA

The Associated Press
Hancock County has stopped providing funds to the Waveland Animal Shelter after learning the shelter had refused to accept stray animals collected by the county, officials said.
The shelter has been funded mostly through a joint effort between Waveland, Bay St. Louis and Hancock County, but the Hancock Board of Supervisors recently voted to stop providing its portion of the money.
Last week, supervisors began a search for available land to build a shelter.
"We're not going to pay for something that we can't use," Supervisor Lisa Cowand said.
County officials said the shelter has been declared a no-kill shelter, meaning animals are held for months while waiting to be adopted or transported to other shelters throughout the country.
Shelter director Renee Lick said the facility is not a no-kill shelter, but she conceded there have been times when the shelter was full and could not accept county animals.
"Yes, there have been some times when that's happened, but we are going to have to start putting animals down again," she said. "We just can't keep holding them as long as we have been."
Carol Strohmetz, president of Friends of the Waveland Animal Shelter, said animal activists who came to help after Katrina struck last year turned the shelter into a no-kill facility, which has contributed to the overpopulation of stray animals in the county. "Even though I hate euthanasia, we can't afford to be a no-kill shelter; it's just not practical," she said.

Suzzie Pollard
412 Old Spanish Trail
Waveland, MS 39576
Main Phone: 228 342 3218

There's a woman in Hancock County, that if you work with animals, you know who she is. Her name is Suzzie Pollard. She, along with dozens of others, fosters animals from the overflow of local shelters.

The problem is the number of animals was too great to begin with and is growing exponentially on a monthly basis. Between already feral animals reproducing, there are the once-domesticated but now feral animals reproducing. So in this single year of uncontrolled pet population, the numbers are beyond staggering and becoming a health crisis for all - animals and humans alike.

Heartworm is infecting dogs at a record pace. With virtually no financial resources to treat infected dogs, they are euthanized as soon as they are diagnosed. In MS, to treat a dog with heartworm starts at $400. For that same money, 8 dogs could be immunized for a full year. This is why triage is occurring. They simply can't afford to treat dogs once infected when they can prevent it in so many.

A health crisis that no one is speaking of, but which looms dark on the horizon is rabies. With this many animals, along with an exploding rat and racoon population means the threat for rabies is growing daily. All it will take is a single animal to infect a dozen or more, and the epidemic is off and running. Add that the dogs are running in packs and living in condemned homes, the threat to humans is very real.

To effectively treat both of the above problems, there is a very real need for volunteer vets to come in and assist with their spay/neuter programs. Most, if not all, rescue and SPCA-type organizations have left, having done all their budgets allow. Vetrinarians, like physicians, are at 1/3 to 1/4 staff due to relocating from the storm. So the need and the crisis is very real.

Suzzie has seen this threat and is doing all she can to help prevent it. She has been collecting and distributing up to 1,400 pounds of food daily to shelters and other foster homes, soliciting assistance from all areas she can think of and is on the verge of bankrupcy because of this crisis. She has also sacrificed her health. She has pneumonia and is sidelined for an unknown period of time. This makes the crisis that much more dire.

The entire Gulf Coast needs assistance.

Her needs, which are indicative of the region, are as follows:

Food - Any and all types of animal food. While dogs and cats are the main issue, there are other domestic and exotic animals in need as well.
Crates - all sizes of animal crates for housing and to give when an animal is adopted.
Food pans - disposable is best for feeding the house pets.
Litter pans
Cat litter - any amount of these will be a very welcome addition
Have a Heart Traps - since so many are feral, trapping is necessary
Medications/vaccinations - Flea, distemper, heartworm, tapeworm, Feline Leukemia, rabies are all in very short supply
Bedding - straw is preferred
Cleaning supplies - Bleach, Windex, Mops, Gloves, Goggles, Masks, Sponges, Scrub Brushes, SOS Pads, Paper Towels, Rags, Garbage Bags - BIG, etc.
Walmart Gift Cards - it's the closest store that has a steady source of supplies.

I have written a letter to the editor for this crisis. Please use it to send to your paper. It is under 200 words, which is necessary for most papers and is not a solicitation - also a requirement of most papers. So should get through the editors with little or not problem.

An animal crisis is occurring along the Gulf. As with any community, the unwanted pet population was already high prior to the storms and now the numbers are exploding. Feral and once-domesticated animals are all reproducing. So in this single year of uncontrolled pet breeding, the numbers are staggering and a health crisis for animals and humans has begun.

Heartworm is epidemic with triage occurring. Treatment is about $400, which can immunize 8 dogs for a full year, so dogs diagnosed with heartworm are euthanized.

The health crisis of which no one speaks, but looms dark on the horizon, is rabies. With the exploding pet, rat and raccoon populations, the rabies threat grows daily. One animal can infect a dozen or more, starting the epidemic and making the threat to humans very real. Most animal rescue organizations left, having done all their budgets allow. Veterinarians, like physicians, are at 1/4 to 1/3 staff due to relocating from the storm, so the need and the crisis is growing.

Last year’s hurricane season is far from over in so many ways.


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