The other animals affected by the oil spill

Pet Owners, Squeezed by Oil Spill, Turn to Shelters

Since the BP oil disaster began, overwhelmed pet owners in coastal parishes, notably St. Bernard, and to a lesser degree, Plaquemines, have been dropping off their pets in droves. Some hand them over tearfully, others matter of factly.

“I think about how one day these animals are happy and go to sleep, and then the next day they wake up in a cage wondering, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ ” said Mary Gambill, 54, of Luling, La., who drove an hour south to St. Bernard to adopt Andrea, a yellow Lab whose ribs poked through her sickly coat.

“These aren’t just scroungy dogs on the side of the road,” Ms. Gambill said. “These are pets.”

In June 2009, owners brought 17 pets in to the shelter; last month, owners relinquished more than 100 pets, Ms. Brewster said. To make room in the kennels, the sickest animals and those most unlikely to be adopted — primarily feral cats and aggressive dogs — have been euthanized, she said.

The situation is different than after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when owners abandoned their pets in haste, and later out of necessity when they themselves had no homes. Then, overcrowded shelters focused on rescue and reunion missions.

Now agencies like the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States are trying to ease the overcrowding by arranging adoptions with shelters throughout the country and by offering free veterinary services and pet food so owners can keep their pets.

If you can help by donating money or calling to find out what else is needed, the best place to start is probably here: the Louisiana SPCA site.

The BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on April 21, 2010 has had a devastating effect on residents from the coastal parishes of Southeast Louisiana. Families are struggling to meet basic needs and as a result Animal Shelters have experienced an increase in owner’s relinquishing their pets. Knowing the physical and mental health benefits of having pets as well as the negative impact of relinquishing a family pet; this program aims to provide short term support for families in jeopardy of relinquishing their pet.

If you would like to contribute by check, please make check payable to LA/SPCA (Disaster Relief) and mail to:  1700 Mardi Gras Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70114

There’s also info at the LSPCA link for how to get assistance in feeding your pets and getting free veterinary care for them if you are a Gulf resident who works in the fishing industry. Parishes included: Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Terrebone, or Jefferson.

Here’s the Humane Society’s article about their work to transport animals from the overcrowded Gulf Coast shelters to places up north to prevent them from being euthanized for lack of space and adopters.

HSUS would also be a great place to donate.

(By the way: *this* is the kind of work HSUS does, as well as cruelty-prevention education: they don’t exist to operate shelters, that isn’t what they do. Instead, they work on big-picture solutions to the problems animals face. The negative press levied at HSUS by the likes of PETA does enormous harm: by suggesting they are corrupt or not a good place to donate money because they don’t shelter animals directly, PETA et al basically make sure no one is opposing dog fighting, responding to national disasters, or doing humane education – the shelters, which are lucky if they can function at all in day to day care of abandoned animals, certainly don’t do those things. So please respect the need for what the Humane Society does and the skill with which they do it.)

Finally, here’s a list of Louisiana animal shelters, in case you want to call around and see what people need.

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