Volume I, Issue III

September 2005


        Hurricane Katrina and Her Toll on Animals

        At the Animal Shelter - Adoption Equals Rescue

        Microchips Bring Pets Home


Hurricane Katrina and Her Toll on Animals


The Situation: Most organizations are not even attempting to estimate the numbers of dogs, cats, horses, and other pets that have been stranded or made homeless by Hurricane Katrina.  All we do know is that many of the people who were rescued or who rescued themselves were not able to take their animals.  In addition, area animal shelters, which are usually full, were also impacted by the hurricane.  Many of the animals in shelters before Katrina hit have been transported to distant shelters to make room for the large numbers of pets now abandoned.  Pasado’s Safe Haven has reported that pets are locked in their homes, dehydrating, and starving to death.  Rescuers have reported that cats have been particularly difficult to retrieve because of their tendency to hide when scared.  At least thousands and probably hundreds of thousands of animals have been left to fend for themselves in unsanitary conditions.

Photograph from Pasado’s Safe Haven.  One of the thousands of dogs rescued from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


Some Dogs are Being Shot: It started as an unconfirmed rumor.  Now reliable sources such as the ASPCA have confirmed isolated but repeated instances of dogs being shot by officials.  In some cases, the officials had a realistic concern about human safety, and in some cases the dogs were killed to protect the integrity of human remains.  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) contends that some of these shootings occur simply because members of the police and military are not trained or not equipped to handle free-roaming dogs. 


The Response: Thanks in large part to the unprecedented quantity of donations to the ASPCA, the association has been able to coordinate with other organizations and provide a robust response.  The ASPCA has already spent more than $830,000 in Hurricane Katrina animal rescue efforts.  Some of those funds have gone to support other organizations on the ground in the disaster area.  Other organizations with a significant presence in the rescue efforts include Best Friends, Humane Society of the United States, Red Cross, and United Animal Nations.  The ASPCA reports that their coalition of rescuers have already retrieved more than 2,000 cats and dogs, roughly 50 exotic pets, and roughly 200 horses.  Clearly, there is much work left to be done.


The Right Way to Help:  Many people in Galax, Twin Counties, and surrounding areas have expressed a strong desire to provide hands-on assistance.  The volunteer spirit has moved people to want to provide foster care for dogs, cats, and horses and has moved many to want to drive into the disaster area and get to work.  We are not alone.  The ASPCA has received more than 16,000 e-mails from people volunteering their services. 

     The ASPCA and most organizations have discouraged volunteers from rushing into the disaster area without individual coordination from a group already on the ground there.  The ASPCA reports that there have been so many volunteers just showing up that volunteers have been turned away.  The problem is that the rescue efforts lack the equipment and the facilities to make use of all the people showing up.  Pasado’s Safe Haven gave the example of a lack of boats.  If they have 100 volunteers in New Orleans and only five boats, they have 85 volunteers wasting their time and resources because they have nothing to do.  Healing Springs has volunteered the services of Dr. Heather Jenkins Brazzell to the ASPCA and to the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and is awaiting their call.  Those given first priority in being called up have been those with disaster relief training and experience.  After that, people with applicable skills and assets will probably be the next to receive calls.   

     However, Pasado’s Safe Haven is one organization that has reversed its earlier position.  Their website recently displayed an open call for volunteers and driving instructions to a coordination site.  This plea was posted at http://www.pasadosafehaven.org/index.html.  At this time, Healing Springs Animal Hospital cannot vouch for the quality of this call for volunteers.  As recently as September 15, the ASPCA sent out an e-mail to everyone on the volunteer roles saying that the greatest current need is for people with specific disaster relief training and experience.  The ASPCA is directing everyone else to wait for an individual call to action from an organization on the ground there.

     People often feel better about providing hands-on help or by giving material items instead of money.  However, what the groups need changes on a daily basis.  In addition, most vendors are providing much needed supplies at steep discounts.  If you buy a bag of horse feed and send it by way of the Red Cross, that amount of money you spent on the bag and the amount of resources used to ship it may have bought the ASPCA three bags of food.  Good funding truly does answer many problems.  The ASPCA has proved an excellent recipient of hurricane relief donations.  They have coordinated and funded multiple other organizations on the ground.  The ASPCA has also set up a separate disaster relief fund to ensure that donations intended for emergency spending and reconstruction do not go to general operating costs.  Healing Springs Animal Hospital has set out an ASPCA donation box and is sending the funds to the ASPCA Disaster Relief Fund.  You can donate directly to the ASPCA at www.ASPCA.org.



At the Animal Shelter – Adoption Equals Rescue


October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.  Every day, the shelter has a selection of pure breed and mixed breed dogs fit for adoption.  If you know people considering adding a dog or cat to their family, please send them to the local animal shelter.


As a matter of public health, the animal shelter in Galax euthanizes between 2,000 and 3,000 dogs and cats every year.


Currently our nation is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and animal advocates are generously helping the dogs and cats suffering in the disaster area.  As we contemplate the humanitarian tragedy of Louisiana and Mississippi, we should also keep in mind the unpublicized, slow tragedy that we create right here at home.  The Galax, Carroll, Grayson Animal Shelter in Galax, VA euthanizes roughly 85% of all animals deposited there.  They each have about one week to live.  As a matter of public health, the Galax animal shelter must euthanize between 2,000 and 3,000 dogs and cats every year.  If 2,500 pets were jeopardized all at once by a fire or windstorm, it would make national news and people would rush in from far and wide to help.  Since our situation takes place gradually, over the course of each and every year, it barely merits a mention in the press. 


Step one for alleviating this problem is to have each dog and cat neutered.  Neutering pets decreases the pet population and reduces the pressure on the animal shelter.  Step two is to make your local animal shelter the first place you go when considering bringing a cat or dog into your family.  Please tell your friends and support the Galax – Carroll – Grayson Animal Shelter.  Step three is to remember the Twin County Humane Society when prioritizing your charitable giving.  The Twin County Humane Society manages a spay and neuter assistance fund available through all area veterinarians.  This fund has made additional spays and neuters possible at Healing Springs Animal Hospital.  Checks can be mailed to the Twin County Humane Society at PO Box 125, Hillsville VA, 24343.


Adopt Your Pets at

Galax – Carroll – Grayson Animal Shelter

Open Tuesday – Saturday

(276) 236-8501


Microchips Bring Pets Home



The HomeAgain microchip

Small as a grain of rice

The events currently in the news may have you wondering, “What would happen to my pet if we were separated?”  The first answer is to keep a tag on your pet with current contact information.  However, we all know that good collars are designed so that pets can get them off if they are caught on something and that pets sometimes get out without their collars.  Many people are finding peace of mind with the new microchip systems.


Veterinarians can now implant microchips only as large as a grain of rice in the skin behind the pet’s neck.  The chip contains a unique identification code that functions like a social security number or a vehicle identification number.  Animal shelters and others with the scanning equipment can scan the pet for the existence of the chip and retrieve the unique ID code.  This code is then submitted to the American Kennel Club’s Companion Animal Recovery database, and your contact information is returned. 


The microchips cannot fade out like a tattoo or fall off like a tag.   The implanting procedure is safe and simple.  The chips come preloaded in a sterile applicator and are injected under the skin by a veterinarian in a procedure much like giving a vaccine. 


The Galax-Carroll-Grayson Animal Shelter has not implemented the free scanning system at this time, but several shelters in surrounding areas have.  Healing Springs Animal Hospital uses HomeAgain microchips from Schering-Plough.  HomeAgain has registered more than 2 million pets and has facilitated the return of more than 200,000 pets.  Every eight minutes, a lost pet is recovered thanks to the HomeAgain process.  Healing Springs Animal Hospital charges only $41 for the HomeAgain implant.  Enrolling a pet into the AKC’s CAR pet identification registry requires an additional, one-time enrollment fee that is valid for the life of the pet.  Pet owners can update their contact information in the database as needed for no additional fee.


The Animal Health Bulletin is a FREE service of

Healing Springs Animal Hospital

(276) 236-5103

107 Nuckolls Curve Rd

Galax, VA  24333


Visit our website at www.HealingSpringsAnimalHospital.com






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