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TheDogPlace.org > Projects >> Hurricane Katrina

 

DIANE ALBERS ON KATRINA DISASTER

see previous coverage of Diane's work in the disaster

Diane Albers, AKC Delegate, President Florida Association Of Kennel Clubs, Member Fla. State Agriculture Response Team, Disaster Animal Rescue Team, and friend to all dogs and those who love them. Diane J. Albers Passed Away December 2008, in her sleep, watching TV with a dog in her lap.

 

In her memory, we commit resources to aid dogs in future disasters.


Sept. 21, 2005 - © TheDogPlace - The exhaustion was apparent in her voice.  She hadn’t put the phone down in days. 

 

Frustration was equally evident as Diane explained that the federal edict in place now in Louisiana which for the most part prevents rescue people from taking animals unless they can qualify to the regulations set forward by HSUS!!  Read that again with your today eyes.  Those who do bring animals out must hold them until Oct 15th and then foster until adopted.

 

“HSUS is making things worse by totally not cooperating.  People going in to the New Orleans area (rescue groups) are being told the animals are all dead.  Yet, under the trees, not even a tent for shade, on a little piece of high ground in a state park picnic area, we found a group who had been rescuing dogs that managed to swim and drag themselves in from the water.  A lot of them had collars and tags that said New Orleans.  They are being held there for the owners.  Those that were owner surrendered were taken out and taken care of and we’ve been going back and forth looking for groups like that ever since.”

 

Diane, our sources say that HSUS is not releasing dogs that were known beyond doubt to be in their care.  Those dogs have disappeared and owners are unable to track them down.  What have you heard?

 

“HSUS has been unbelievable, I could go on forever with those stories, but one thing we’re doing is asking everyone that goes in there to maintain a paper trail on the dogs, their trips, supplies taken in and any dogs they are able to get out.

 

“Let me give you an example and these are things I hear with my own ears.  One lady who had driven from North Florida, had been traveling all night.  She went to drop supplies in Gulf Port, Mississippi.  I had asked her to get me a first hand report on what’s going on in Gonzales.  She went into Pactmine's Parrish to see what the situation was.  The police and the military were pulling dogs out and feeding them. She was loaded down with a trailer full of supplies and about 1:00 A.M. a bolt broke on the trailer.  Thankfully they were finally able to get assistance from a police officer and an old man and his son repaired the trailer.  She was then guided to Gonzales by the police. What she found the next morning was there are dry areas where people and animals are congregating.  In Gonzalez, this horse woman found people who know nothing about horses trying to take care of them. 

 

"They were also many different breeds mixed in with dogs identified as Pit Bulls, dogs that obviously were not pit bulls, but those people just don’t know the difference, there was even a purebred Bulldog bitch in that pen.

 

“It's really crazy.  Most volunteer workers know nothing about horses and yet we have hundreds of horse people that went or will go to help out and they can't get inside.  This same woman had delivered the supplies and was making a list of things that were still needed.  This woman went into the small animal area and identified those that were recognizable as a breed, German Shepherds, Rotties, etc..."

 

So she was reporting to you right from the scene by phone as she went around?

 

“Yes, in fact she had me on the phone as she was talking to these people.  She finally found someone in charge and asked that lady what they needed in the way of supplies so she could complete her list.  The woman said, “We really need push brooms and we need masks.” so the woman wrote that down until she was stopped by the barn manager who said We don’t allow the press back here.”  She explained that she wasn’t the press and he demanded to know what was she doing then with the pen and paper?  The horsewoman explained she was making a list of needed supplies to bring on her next run.  She was constantly challenged, it’s like all the wrong people are down there giving orders and not enough of the right people.”

 

Diane, we have an MSNBC video clip where the reporter and camera crew confronts police who are looting, actually loading up shopping baskets at K-Mart.  Do you know if anything like that is going on with supplies perhaps not getting to the dogs or the people who are qualified to meet the needs of the animals?

 

“I asked some people down there to snoop into trailers and any kind of building to find out what was there and what might be needed.  One of them called me and said she was standing in a barn piled high with crates on both ends.  All the barns have crates piled on both ends!  Wire crates, plastic crates, all the way to the ceiling, and all kinds of other supplies are in the warehouses.  I suppose I should just say that we have documented that deliveries made have not been given out.  We have carefully tracked, as much as is possible from our end, supplies, yet we were told they had no masks for the group of volunteers.  When I talked to him, the barn manager said they needed no push-brooms and masks were in the warehouse!  Yet the volunteers had no masks while working in those buildings.  They just didn't distribute them!  We know that dollies were delivered and signed for but nobody down there seems to know anything about it.  Apparently they don’t have people to track what comes in so they have warehouses full of stuff that they don’t even know they have or in some cases, they may be denying that they have.  Now this is HSUS, possibly some SPCA people involved as well.”

 

“The other big problem is that HSUS will not let purebred dog people in to get the dogs out of Gonzalez, they are strongly resisting that.  Our group brings out everything except snakes and cockroaches but here's the awful truth - we know we can place the purebred dogs in good homes very quickly. The other animals are a lot harder to place so what do you do if you’ve got five hundred runs tied up, runs that could be used to quickly turn over five hundred purebred dogs or animals that are easily and quickly placed?  What do we do about those that are virtually unadoptable but would fill the runs?  To HSUS, they're all the same.  They would sacrifice easily adoptable animals, not let people take them.  They leave behind shelters filled to capacity.  They will have no way to handle the overwhelming problem and those shelters will have to euthanize."

 

Well Diane, what can be done about the people going back to recover their own pet only to be told they it's not there when they were told the day before they were being held?

 

“Well that’s right, people who confirmed that their dog was there headed to that collection point only to find out there was no paper trail and no one knew where their dog had been sent.  For instance, there was an Airedale tracked to Gonzalez, in that case they filled out the paperwork but when the rescuers went in to get the dog, they refused to give it to them.  They notified the owners, this was the end of last week, but when the owners got there, their Airedale was gone!  They couldn’t say where the dog had been sent because their database had been down for days and there was no paperwork.”

 

OK, so here’s what I’m seeing, both from the reports you’re getting back, and from other sources.  The HSUS is stockpiling supplies, not giving them out, and in some cases, such as the masks, people don't even know what they have.  There must be some explanation other than they are not keeping any kind of records.  It isn't like this is the first time the HSUS has responded in an emergency, surely they would have established some protocol, some sort of order?

 

"Listen, the greater problem is that dogs are being sent out by HSUS to kill shelters and speculation runs high that they could be going to auctions or God knows where else.  As owners are allowed back into the area, they are unable to recover their own pets even though volunteers and rescue people verified they were there through tags or microchip but they find their dogs are gone!"

 

“Okay so I raised cane and well they threw me a bone, saying if you send in people who have experience in micro chip, photograph, other kinds of identification, or if purebred rescues come in with the proper paperwork, we will release them.  So they called my bluff, and okay, we are going to organize and start sending people in on Tuesday morning (delayed from Friday because of Rita) if they will let them in. They will identify as many dogs as possible by their breed and then relay that information to me.  We will then relay that information to the breed rescues who can line up with the proper paperwork.  They’ve got the DPCA who got the Dobies out and some other breeds but that's not nearly enough. So we're organizing Labs and other breed club groups.”

 

Okay, we’ll get this out by Friday, wish we'd known sooner but I know you are having to play it by ear, day by day.  We’re all saying a prayer for those people down there, they are now being ignored a little on press coverage because of Hurricane Rita.

 

“Oh my God yes! People are standing by right now.  We’re moving dogs out as quickly as we can to make room so that we can begin to work with those animals! Its just been an absolute nightmare for the people and the animals.”

 

I know.  Diane, from the thousands who will read this, Thank You.  We'll be in  touch and hopefully more people who read this will understand that there are not enough "somebody else" people out there.  We all have to do our part.

"Thanks BJ."


Albers Early Katrina Report Aug 2005

Albers Katrina Update Sept 2005

HSUS Holds Dogs Hostage Sept 2005

Please go to Offers and Needs or call directly to your local kennel club, or to Diane.  Be sure your time, supplies, or money winds up in the right hands. 

 

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