CARE inundated with rescued hurricane pets
Colorado Animal Rescue director Leslie Rockey doesn’t catch any flack when she browses the Internet everyday at work.”I get on petfinder.com daily and log on to check e-mails to see if I’ve received any matches,” said Rockey, whose shelter houses rescued cats and dogs from areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina. “There are thousands and thousands of animals posted on there. It’s something that changes daily.”The shelter rarely houses out-of-state rescued animals, but the aftermath of Katrina left thousands of pets homeless. That’s when CARE – and hundreds of other shelters nationwide – opened its doors.”Although our own community is always our first priority, we lent a hand in helping because this was a disaster situation,” Rockey said. “We were just another shelter in the United States willing to help.”On Sept. 27, former veterinary technician Kathy Miller returned to Colorado from Hattiesburg, Miss., with 11 cats evacuated from the hurricane-ravaged area. Two of the cats have been placed in foster homes in the valley.”No owners have been found. We’ve had a couple of inquiries but no owners,” Rockey said. “Some of the cats we know have been surrendered have been put on the adoption list.”When the Katrina evacuees first arrived at CARE, Rockey said she had interest in people volunteering foster care for the cats.The novelty has since worn off.”I must have had five people who offered to foster cats when they came in,” Rockey said. “I only had one lady who called back to foster. That cat is doing well, and has settled into her home.”The addition of evacuee cats, along with several dogs CARE board member Sue Schmidt helped bring to Colorado, has had some effect on the shelter. In all, CARE houses around 50 cats and 20 dogs at its no-kill facility.”This does affect us. We’re always full with cats and there are still so many cats in our community,” Rockey said. “We are trying to keep with our mission to keep these animals safe and happy until their owners claim them. We can’t imagine what these animals have been through.” On Friday, one of the dogs rescued from the hurricane-ravaged area, Buster, bit Rockey as she attempted to check his teeth at Schmidt’s ranch in Silt. The dog was placed in 10-day rabies quarantine Wednesday.”We are committed to finding owners for these dogs,” Rockey said. “Nothing will happen with their adoptions or with the possibility of euthanasia until December. If we foster cats and dogs out, there will be no final adoptions until December,” she said.Tracey Yajko, a CARE board member and certified dog trainer and counselor contracted to assist with behavior observations of the hurricane dogs, said quarantine is standard in a biting situation.”That is an unfortunate medical situation,” she said. “In my professional opinion, some of these dogs had issues and anxiety before the hurricane.”Yajko said all animals react differently to post-traumatic stress after natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.”We are definitely giving them more time to adjust than other dogs that come in to the shelter,” said Yajko, who teaches basic obedience courses at High Tails Dog and Cat Outfitters in Glenwood Springs. “Their inherent temperaments should start to come out. Some of these dogs have never been crated before. Some are happy, and some are not sure about you. It’s so individual, and some will bounce back faster than others,” Yajko said.Rockey said she hopes to see positive outcomes with all the pets rescued from the hurricane and brought to Colorado.”We are really hopeful there are owners out there,” she said. “We’re looking for alternatives and solutions, and we’re really hopeful there are owners out there.”Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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