Silt woman joins Louisiana animal relief effort |

Silt woman joins Louisiana animal relief effort

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson Tara Meixsell, left, and Kathy Miller scour the pet aisle at Kmart looking for pet supplies Monday morning. Miller later left for Louisiana with a truck full of supplies and donations ready to help the orphaned animals.

Kathy Miller and Tara Meixsell had no time to wait for Blue Light Specials at Kmart Monday morning.The new friends were on a mission – to shop as quickly as possible so Miller could leave town with hydrogen peroxide, dog leashes and collars, gauze, metal food and water bowls, bird seed and more.A former medical lab technician, Miller was hurriedly on her way out of Glenwood Springs, bound for Louisiana where time is of the essence to help animals rescued from Hurricane Katrina waters. Meixsell was unable to make the trip because of work constraints, so she fronted the $250 bill (which Kmart then discounted 25 percent) for relief supplies, instead.”I just want to help save them,” said Miller, of the thousands of animals left homeless or hurt from the hurricane that hit two weeks ago. “It’s fortunate I’m not working right now, because I can go.”Before Monday, the two Garfield County residents had never met. Miller and Meixsell became phone friends after watching a news report Friday on Channel 7 about Fort Collins veterinarian technician Shelly Whipple, who organized the effort to help rescue stranded animals in Louisiana. Both women called the number on TV, and Meixsell soon learned about Miller, a Colorado Mountain College veterinary technician graduate from Silt, who was loading up her truck and RV to help animals in a small town near Baton Rouge.”She’s just an animal lover, and I’m just an animal lover, too,” said Meixsell, an assistant residential director at Mountain Valley Developmental Services. “I have a small ranch with cats, dogs, horses and llamas. When I saw this on the news, it just hit hard.”With her veterinarian science credentials, Miller received the OK Sunday to join Whipple and a vet tech from Boulder – whom she picked up prior to receiving a tetanus shot – in Louisiana. She estimated she was carrying about 100 pounds of supplies when she left Glenwood, and hoped to take on more supplies before leaving for Louisiana from Fort Collins.

“My vet, Karen Boland at Valley Veterinary Clinic in Rifle, she donated a couple boxes of medical supplies before I left,” she said. “We really don’t know what to expect.”Although Miller said she doesn’t believe anyone can really prepare to help with relief efforts during a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, she wants to be there. She will sleep in her camper during the two-week mission. “Tonight we’ll probably drive until about midnight then stop, but I’m hoping to be there by late tomorrow,” said Miller, a cat, dog and horse owner. “My husband kind of understands, but he didn’t want to see me go. Plus he gets left with all my animals to take care of.”Dog trainer Sue Schmidt relates to Miller and Meixsell’s desire to help animals left displaced and debilitated by Hurricane Katrina. The board member of Colorado Animal Rescue is working with Best Friends and the Humane Society of the United States to create a resource list to coordinate volunteer and donation efforts locally.”A resource list will reduce the amount of individual phone calls to the larger organizations. We’re trying to make a difference that way,” said Schmidt, who has offered the use of her 26-foot trailer as sleeping quarters in Mississippi if someone can donate a truck with an equalizer hitch to pull it. “Right now we really need specific things donated like 10 prefabricated kennels and someone to sponsor a mobile vet who can stay down there. There just isn’t a lot of time. They need housing for these animals and people who can feed and water them now.”Schmidt is also helping coordinate rescue efforts in the valley to help in the coming months.”We know in about three to four weeks they’re going to need to move some animals and they’ll need horse trailers,” she said. “It’s like housing the people – the same thing is true for the animals – they’re trying to keep them as close to home as possible right now to get owners back with their pets. They’re trying to keep a database of animals for those that will need to be fostered.”

For now, CARE has not received word on when its facility in Spring Valley will house rescued animals.”We’re on a waiting list, and I haven’t heard a specific time, but we will take animals here,” said CARE director Leslie Rockey. “We’ve been working with Best Friends, and we kind of have our fingers in a lot of places.”Rockey said the valley’s response to the welfare of these animals has been promising.”We are getting a lot of calls from the community,” she said. “Everybody is really concerned. It’s just hard to wrap your arms around how bad it is.”Headed to Louisiana in her truck and camper stocked with supplies to help the animals on site, Miller will soon see firsthand what most just see on TV.”It’s going to be difficult, but I want to help as many animals as I can,” she said.

Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.comHelp FidoThere are several ways to support the Hurricane Katrina animal rescue effort locally, including:• Fort Collins Pet Rescue fund: Tara Meixsell, 984-2890 or• Local resource list to volunteer or donate supplies: Sue Schmidt, 876-1937, (303) 204-4687, or Colorado Animal Rescue, 947-9173• Information on the national relief effort:

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