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Louisiana authorities checking Isaac's effect on livestock

Mississippi shelter transfers pets to New York


August 29, 2012
By: Phyllis DeGioia
For The VIN News Service


A motorcade from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry was heading into the lower parishes of Louisiana today to determine the effect on livestock from Hurricane Isaac, which by 2 p.m. local time had weakened into a tropical storm.

Speaking by telephone while en route, Commissioner Mike Strain told the VIN News Service that the agency is just starting to evaluate what it needs to safeguard animals.

"We're on standby for animal evacuation," Strain said, "and we're looking at what we'll do with large animals. We'll see how cattle are in lower parishes. There was quite a bit of flooding and water. ... We are on the ground now and are headed into the lower parishes, trying to get into Plaquemines Parish."

Reports out of Plaquemines Parish, located downriver of New Orleans with a population of less than 24,000, indicate it's among the hardest-hit areas. Local television station WWLTV reported that one town was swamped with 10 to 12 feet of water, requiring the rescue of residents from rooftops.

Parish President Billy Nungesser was quoted as saying the local effects were greater than those caused by Hurricane Katrina, a category 3 hurricane that struck southeastern Louisiana exactly seven years ago.

A bulletin from the National Hurricane Center at 4 p.m. CDT warned: "Isaac producing life-threatening hazards from storm surge and inland flooding as it moves slowly across southeastern Louisiana."
 
The storm's effects on pets and veterinary practices in the region is as yet unclear. Strain said: "As far as small animals, we have not received any calls. The state has a system in place to activate the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART). The calls go through the Emergency Operations Center, but we haven't heard from that."

He added: "Hopefully, most of the small animals evacuated with their owners."

LSART has listed on its Facebook page some shelters that take pets and owners. It also notes that the team fielded a few requests from Shreveport for sheltering pets and that those pets were taken in at a local veterinary hospital. 

Paal Liset, canine manager of Louisiana Task Force-1, which is part of Louisiana Urban Search and Rescue, said at 1:30 p.m. CDT that the team had not been called or deployed. 

The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine posted on its website a statement that its hospital is open for emergency care only. "If your pet requires emergency medical care and your regular veterinarian’s office is closed, you may bring your pet to LSU," the school offers.

In Gulfport, Miss. east of Louisiana, the Humane Society of South Mississippi prepared for the storm by calling on an animal group in New York state to take some of its cats and dogs before the hurricane hit. Emergency rescue team members from the North Shore Animal League of Port Washington, N.Y., responded with two mobile units, moving to safety 50 dogs and puppies in one and 40 cats and kittens in the other, according to Lindsey Calabrese, a spokeswoman for North Shore.

The two groups previously collaborated during rescue operations following Hurricane Katrina, Calabrese said.

"They really learned from Hurricane Katrina. They said, 'We have a full shelter,' and asked if we could take (some animals). They were doing a lot of preparation for people in their area," Calabrese recounted. "They held a clinic over the weekend where they offered vaccines and microchipping. They were trying to get ahead of the curve." 

The Isaac refugees are now available for adoption. Their availability in New York was announced on a local television station and is posted on the Animal League's website.



VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email news@vin.com.



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