Archive for August, 2008
As Hurricane Gustav prepares to set foot on United States soil this week, I am painfully reminded (as are we all) of the devastation and heartbreak left behind by Hurricane Katrina only three years ago. In the early days following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (Katrita), my work on the ground was focused on helping those of the human species whose lives were spared but devastated.
Humans were not the only beings to suffer tragic and enormous loss however. Many pets were left behind in what were considered safe places, their families expecting to be able to return within a day or two. Other animals were simply left behind with the hope they could fend better for themselves if released. As time progressed however, areas behind the National Guard lines remained uninhabitable to man or beast. Not only were there floodwaters and the dangers of unstable debris, but also there were hip deep and throat burning toxic muds. With no clean water, no food, burning chemicals, and serious injuries, these beloved family pets slowly began to die. No one came home, and still, they waited faithfully and loyally to the end.
I felt so devastated by the animal tragedies all around me that I found myself avoiding calls home to my own dear pet and devoted friend Gidget. I felt it necessary to avoid thoughts and feelings about animals and pets.
I cannot begin to tell you the heartbreaking encounters, the pleading eyes from beloved animals too far behind the poisonous lake of muck, and so close to death, I dared not whisper. I cannot begin to tell you about the evidence of violent, not always immediate death by storm. I cannot begin to tell you how gentle and good your animals were during their last moments of life, how hungry they were for food, water, pain relief, love and reassurance. I can only hope that your pet was among one of the many who WERE rescued and is now home safely with you or perhaps lives with a family elsewhere, happy, healthy and well fed.
Our pets do become family; they rely upon us for their safety and well-being. We remove them from their own species and habitats where we become their entire worlds. Gidget tells me about the relationship between man and beast each time she greets me with maddening tail wagging or bows to invite me to play. Our pets deserve all of the safety we can provide them.
FACT: Over 60% of American households include a family pet.
Never again! Let’s prevent the animal tragedies of Hurricane Katrina from ever occurring again. Wherever you live with your pet, consider developing a pet disaster response and evacuation plan.
FACT: Of humans who are safely evacuated, return prematurely to a devastated area and die as a result, the majority went back in to rescue a family pet.
Let’s take them with us! Several organizations have excellent suggestions for disaster planning, pet evacuation, pet safety and ways to stay connected to your pet if you do become separated. No matter where you live, evacuation for some sort of disaster… hurricane, flood, tsunami, fire, toxic spill… may become necessary. Plan ahead. Learn pet first aid. Practice evacuation whenever you bring your pet to the veterinarian.
During times of national disaster, you can help by volunteering or donating to a reputable and effective response effort. At any time, disaster or not, consider becoming a volunteer and donating to your local animal rescue efforts.
The Arctic Chihuahua and I selected some pet safety links posted here for you. Perhaps you will find them useful:
The above links are for starters. If you find another powerful animal disaster safety website, please leave a comment. It’s urgent!
Gidget and Jennifer “>
If Sarah Can’t Wake Him, Nobody Can!
This child is my firstborn, Sarah. Sarah has always been a very optimistic yet realistic young person. She’s also paid close attention to men on horses. When Sarah was just over 2 years old for example, she wrote this little Haiku about her first experience at the rodeo:
Man ride horse
Man show off
Man lose hat
Of course I wasn’t there but I suspect it pretty much sums it up.
Sarah’s always been good at summing things up like that. At about 3 years old, when asked where children get their energy, Sarah confidently explained “They steal it from their mommies.”
Need I say more?
I could go on all evening sharing anecdotes about this lovely and perceptive person, but I won’t. It’s bedtime. She has a busy day tomorrow, as she does each day teaching economics and government to high schoolers. I have just said goodnight to her online and am ready for bed myself.
What I would like to share with you before I wrap this up is: that her students are very lucky kids even if they don’t know it yet, that she is an excellent horsewoman, that she is as sweet as she is beautiful and intelligent.
What I would like for HER to know is that I am fortunate too. I am fortunate this cowboy did not wake up… he’d never measure up to the fellow she deserves…and she doesn’t know it yet.
I love you forever kiddo.
Yesterday I received an e-mail from a friend I met while in my early 20’s. He and I used to go around a bit about the pros and cons of staying in the Los Angeles area versus leaving the metropolis to live and travel. You may be familiar with that theme…should I go or should I stay…my hometown…and so on. In our case, Los Angeles County was not small but it was familiar and full of late nights with friends and intriguing films.
He stayed, I left. After having met Peter, I took one false start to San Francisco Bay’s north penninsula, then a leap to the home of my heart…Idaho. Up north, there was always something to work on, another wall to paint or tear out, another vegetable or flower bed to care for, children to bring to the river.
Down south Peter was always working on something too: rebuilding a sports car, making a movie, always learning to do something new. A very creative fellow is Peter. He’s been sending photos of one of his latest projects, snapshots of his designs through to the actualization, and most recently a link to a video clip of his work: Elephant Fountain.
Now you and I don’t have to leave the Arctic or New Mexico to travel to Burma, Peter brings his travels to us. Enjoy!
Jennifer and The Arctic Chihuahua