On Sep. 24th, 2005 we packed up a 14ft box trailer full of pet supplies and attached it to our 28ft class C motor home and headed to Gulfport MS. We were going down to bring some desperately needed supplies to the Humane Society of Southern Mississippi, and hopefully be able to bring back some of the animals for adoption here in the capital district. We worked with the Humane Society of Rome NY, who agreed to work with us in the adoption process.
We arrived on the night of Sep.26th after dark. When we were getting our directions, we were told that if we passed the road that we needed and came to the National Guard block (only four blocks down) then we passed it and to turn around. Needless to say, that really let us know how close to the devastation we were going to be. We had planned on doing back to back trips with more supplies, but when we woke up the next morning, we saw that we just couldn't leave. They needed help, and needed a lot of it.
The group that we were meeting is called Project Halo, and they are from North Carolina. They were there to help the Humane Society. The Humane Society's main shelter had been destroyed, and the new building that they were in the process of building was also damaged. Project Halo was working out of the shell of that new building. When we went into the building there were cages all lined up in a large room. All the vet supplies were piled on folding tables, and every cage was occupied. Very sad really. We couldn't believe it. They were doing really well for the amount of hands they had. On "staff" was a volunteer vet with his vet tech. He would check every animal that came in and do his best to treat whatever needed to be treated.
There was a total of 12 people that were on "staff" the entire week that were there. Then there were other volunteers that would come in and out for just the day, or maybe even just a few hours. There was a group of school girls that came for 2 days with there teacher, and they washed all the dogs. And there was almost 50 dogs to do. Project Halo's bus (a converted motor home) came twice during the time we were there, and took more that 100 animals back to NC for adoption. It was told that on that following Sat. they had an adoption clinic in NC and adopted 75 animals just in that one day.
It was very sad and emotional. At least 75% of the nearly 300 animals that we saw in the 4 days that we were there were all owner surrenders. People who have lost everything, need to surrender their pets because they could no longer take care of them, or take them with them wherever they were going. The other 25% or so were brought in by animal control or other people that found them as strays or abandoned. These animals did not get to go to NC. They went north to Hattisburg so that if someone was looking for them, then they had a chance to be found. These animals were going to stay for 30 days, and if they were not claimed then they would either be adopted or, well lets not think about that. On the flip side, it was wonderfully to see how these animals were being taken care of. With limited staff, and resources they were better taken care of then the animals that I have seen in most shelters anyplace else.
On Thursday night, after dark, a gentleman from a Florida police department brought in a Dalmation. This dalmation was very thin. So thin and weak that she could not even stand. And loaded with fleas. Mike and I gave her a flea bath and Dr. Mike treated her as best as he could with what he had to work with. But there really wasn't much we could do but care for her and hope for the best. I named her "Sugar Baby". By Saturday she was more alert and walking. Still weak, but up and walking, and that was a good sign. She was tested and tested positive for heart worm. No one wanted to see her go to Hattisburg. We were suppose to leave on Thurs. and decided to stay because they still could use the extra help, and Rita was on her way. We decided to leave on Saturday. On Fri. we got the outer bands of Rita, and a tornado went down the street right in front of our building. Now it was time to move all the animals. We moved them into the middle of the building for safety, and took this time to clean, clean, clean. Everything was scrubbed down with bleach, even the floor was scrubbed.
On Sat. morning, I was told that we would be able to take animals with us. We loaded up our motor home with crates, and took as many as we could. We brought back with us 9 dogs, and 6 kittens. One of them was Sugar. All have been adopted, except Sugar. She will not be put up for adoption until she is well. She is doing much better know, and getting around very well. She still needs to put on a lot of weight before she can have the heart worm treatment. She is staying with us and a wonderful foster home at this time. We split the time, because she is so much to care for. Too much for one person to physically and emotionally care for. This is however working out great. And we are really happy to have been given the chance to give her another chance. We are accepting donations for Sugars treatments. If you would like more information, please let us know.
I would just like to thank everyone that helped make this happen. All of our customers here at Waggin' Tails Grooming pulled together and with their help and the help of their family and friends, we pulled together enough supplies to fill the trailer, and just over $1000.00 for additional supplies to make all this happen. Because of this, we are going to be doing it again.
Amy Ranucci, Owner