Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

Friday, September 30, 2005

A Change In The Weather

In the hope that inspiration finds
me again, lasts longer than the
hour it takes to watch actors spout lines
and sprout wings, soar free on the airwaves
like hawks or eagles
who simply unfold wings for a glide upon
seconds toward minutes at a time.

Scan it all clean again with the upcoming
chill in the air that's arrived already,
I've seen with the clouds moving on the
wind in stop-motion anime.
Its there with the wearing of afternoon
reflection, these ice crystals that speak
so soon.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted on Wed, Sep. 28, 2005

How to save people? Save their animals
Katrina lesson: Evacuees won't leave pets.

By Jeff Shields, Inquirer Staff Writer

For decades, disaster evacuation plans had strict priorities for people and pets. Move the humans first, worry about the animals later. Recent storms had eroded that maxim, and Katrina has blown it down.

After New Orleans residents died because they wouldn't abandon their pets, emergency planners from across the country began embracing a new reality: They can best save people by saving animals, too.

"We've always assumed that pets would be left behind," said Thomas Sullivan, Montgomery County's director of public safety. "But it's unrealistic to think we're going to be able to force people, in great numbers, to do something they're not going to want to do."

Katrina's message was not lost on Galveston, Texas, where officials evacuating the city in the face of Hurricane Rita allowed residents to take their pets with them on escape buses - a marked contrast to the New Orleans policy.

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, officials started to plan for animal evacuations last year, but Katrina has focused their efforts.

They are in the vanguard of 16 states now assembling veterinarians, animal experts and laypeople into voluntary, county-based rescue teams that would evacuate and shelter animals during a disaster.

Some U.S. lawmakers and animal advocates are now saying the federal government needs a plan, too.

Katrina "has really shined the spotlight on the absence of a federal policy on animal rescue and relief during disaster," Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, said in an interview from Gonzales, La., where the Humane Society is operating what it describes at the world's largest animal shelter at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.

Other animals have been brought to a shelter in Baton Rouge, where the animals can live adjacent to a shelter for their owners.

But thousands of animals were left behind, and packs of newly wild dogs now roam the wreckage of New Orleans.

On Thursday, five U.S. congressmen introduced a bipartisan bill that would mandate states and municipalities to provide evacuation plans for pets and service animals, such as guide dogs, in order to qualify for FEMA funding.

Also, Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) and Sen. John Ensign (R., Nev.) have asked President Bush to appoint an animal rescue czar for Katrina. That has not yet happened.

It was Hurricane Floyd in 1999 that inspired North Carolina to create the first State Animal Response Team. That storm killed 2.3 million chickens, 30,000 hogs and 800 cattle.

During Hurricane Ophelia this month, three of the state's coastal counties set up shelters to house pets before the storm hit.

North Carolina also has plans to provide emergency generators for feeding and ventilation systems for large farms. Meat-processing plants are even on call to speed up animal processing rather than have livestock lost to a storm and rotting carcasses become a health hazard.

The New Jersey Animal Emergency Working Group, a coalition of government and private organizations, recognized early on that many humans will not leave their homes without their pets, said Nancy Halpern, New Jersey state veterinarian.

Or, if they do, they will try to return to their animals before it's safe, she said.

"Our [evacuation] plans say do not leave your pets behind," said Halpern.

But turning the idea into an implementable plan has been difficult. The Red Cross, the chief sheltering resource for people, does not allow pets in its shelters.

"Humans come first - we understand that," said Halpern. "Essentially, what we've done is establish a parallel path to the human response."

That means Camden County could provide separate buses for pets and their owners. Montgomery County in Pennsylvania could use a portable corral to shelter cows from Fox Chase Farm, a working farm and educational center in Northeast Philadelphia. People staying at a local high school might use the maintenance shed to house their pets.

In this region, Bucks, Chester and Montgomery Counties are now forming County Animal Response Teams. Camden, Gloucester and Burlington Counties are also developing plans. Delaware County has no team yet.

Philadelphia's team, which is still organizing a plan, will have to account for pets, carriage horses, laboratory animals and the thousands of animals at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Joe Buttito is the Animal Response Team coordinator for Bradford County on Pennsylvania's northeastern border with New York, one of the few in full operation.

His team was deployed on April 2 when flooding of the Susquehanna River killed a number of calves and left four dogs and a cat in need of shelter.

Now he is working out of the Humane Society shelter in Gonzales and venturing into New Orleans every day to save pets with an organized rescue team.

Last Monday, he was sweating inside a trailer in Gonzales, assessing animals as they came into the shelter at the end of his eighth day on the ground. That day he had 30 dogs, 20 cats, a Burmese python, and a cockatiel on hand.

Those animals will be photographed and tagged, many of them implanted with an identifying microchip, and their information put on the Web site www.petfinder.com so their owners can find them.

Without forgetting the human safety factor, Buttito said he has been overtaken by sympathy for the plight of the confused, frightened, emaciated animals, and said emergency preparation starts at home.

"I would hope, in the future, that people have a plan for evacuation," he said.

Jeffrey Hamer, a veterinarian for the state of New Jersey who was responsible for organizing the county response teams, returned last week from the Mississippi Coast.

He was struck by the people who had lost everything but found joy in a pet's salvation.

"The house I can replace, everything I can replace," he recalled hearing, again and again, "but this is the most important thing to me."

Contact staff writer Jeff Shields at 610-313-8173 or jshields@phillynews.com.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

This was posted in the pet store where I work... So if you live in the South Jersey area, here's your chance to help our four-legged friends.

Hurricane Katrina Relief
Please Help The Pets

Thousands of animals are living in makeshift shelters separated from their owners who have died or were evacuated, leaving their pets behind. These animals will need housing and medical attention for several months. Your local veterinarians are going to the Gulf Coast to assist and relieve emergency volunteers in the disaster area.

Many of you want to help but don't know what you can do. Every one of us has some of the following items:

Collapsable kennels/crates
Leashes & collars
Food bowls
Pet toys
Sterile bandage tape and gauze
Rubbing alcohol
Bottled water (cases only please)
Large plastic garbage bags
Rolls of paper towels

The Rothman Animal Hospital will be collecting these items until Wednesday, September 28th. They will be hand delivered the first week in October, through Rural Area Veterinary Services (A division of the Humane Society of the United States)

Please pack similar items together and clearly label what is in each package.

Any questions, please contact 856-655-1787

Thank you in advance for your generosity

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Within a realm of orange sky and blue pen your case is collectively stated daily and I, with my myriad blocks scary as any blank page have nothing worthwhile to say. Or do I? So I go on some quest, some mission to find an opening statement. A daily goal to write something, anything. To post or not to post is the question of the moment. And aye; therein lies the rub of a lifetime, a self-erasure of sorts. What a conglomerate of self-defeat this would be... Or would it?

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Katydid place a call in the middle
of the night from the rooftops
and the trees.
From the trees and rooftops,
be-boppin' scat to the background
of a distant drum that's always
on the way over the horizon
but never arrives.
Katydid place a call to rival
the sound of a thousand mutated
crickets as the moon glides low
enough to hide under the tallest limbs.
And somewhere fingers are pointing,
somehere truth can trickle down
like receding storm lines in a million
different stories with a million
different endings, the ones that say
death is a way of life, the ones telling
you to interpret the concept as change.
Chris Penrod, speaks to the media on behalf of her sister, Madeleine Pickens, wife of oil tycoon Boone Pickens who funded a flight carrying 150 cats and dogs displaced by Hurricane Katrina to San Francisco International Airport, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2005, as the animals are released to animal rescue workers in San Francisco. This first installment of rescued animals is part of a collaborative efforts of Continental Airlines, PetRelocations.com, and the Marin and Sacramento Humane Societies. (AP Photo/JuliePlasencia)

I made a special point to watch "Heroes of Hurricane Katrina" on Animal Planet last night. It wasn't in the listings, although it was airing previews all last week.. My guess is that they put it together in a rush to get it aired - and they did a great job with it. You really have to hand it to those people - and there were tons of them - who dropped everything to come and help with pet rescues. I feel so bad for all the ones who didn't make it, and the owners who'll never see their pets again. But even with all the ones who died, there are so many of them that were reunited, and still are. Thank God for all the happy endings to make up just a little for the sad ones.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I found this video on CNN... it seems to best illustrate that most folks view their pets as important as their kids.

Humane Society Animal Rescue

Friday, September 09, 2005

This is what I'm talking about, this is how we look to the world. Doesn't this bother you?

By Andrew Gray
LONDON (Reuters) - The world has watched amazed as the planet's only superpower struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with some saying the chaos has exposed flaws and deep divisions in American society.

World leaders and ordinary citizens have expressed sympathy with the people of the southern United States whose lives were devastated by the hurricane and the flooding that followed.

But many have also been shocked by the images of disorder beamed around the world -- looters roaming the debris-strewn streets and thousands of people gathered in New Orleans waiting for the authorities to provide food, water and other aid.

"Anarchy in the USA" declared Britain's best-selling newspaper The Sun.

"Apocalypse Now" headlined Germany's Handelsblatt daily.

The pictures of the catastrophe -- which has killed hundreds and possibly thousands -- have evoked memories of crises in the world's poorest nations such as last year's tsunami in Asia, which left more than 230,000 people dead or missing.

But some view the response to those disasters more favorably than the lawless aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"I am absolutely disgusted. After the tsunami our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering," said Sajeewa Chinthaka, 36, as he watched a cricket match in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

"Not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the civilized part of the world's population is."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Buy this book... to help Katrina victims. Because the hurricane was more devastating than anyone thought it would be, because it will take years to rebuild a normal life for the thousands left with nothing, because a family pet is truly a family member and because its the only way I know to help, I'm donating my sales from this book for the rest of 2005 and all of 2006 to the American Red Cross and the ASPCA. You can order it from Barnes and Noble retailer, or online at http://www.barnesandnoble.com. You can also order online from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com and through the publisher at http://www.publishamerica.com

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricane ReliefDonate NowVolunteer NowRescue DiaryHurricane HotlineTemporary Pet SheltersHelp for HorsesMedia/Press ReleasesEmergency Pet PreparednessShelter OutreachPet Loss Information

Rescue Photos

Rescue Diary

Animals housed at the Austin Humane Society.
Karen Medicus with Max, a very happy puppy being sheltered in Austin.

Animals housed at the Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette.

Piles of pet food at the Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette.

Click here to make a donation that will go directly to help shelters impacted by natural disasters rebuild facilities and assist in their disaster recovery efforts.

Evening Update, September 5:

Don't believe everything you hear. The ASPCA has investigated allegations that family pets in Louisiana are being taken from their owners and shot. We have found that there is absolutely no truth to this widely circulated rumor. According to reliable sources, one dog was shot and killed after it tried to attack an officer. There is no order to shoot animals unless they are endangering law enforcement officers. In fact, we just heard from our rescue staff in the field that they were stopped by security guards trying to get help for some New Orleans police officers who were helping to care for some puppies at a local Wal-Mart and wanted to make sure that they were rescued. You can help keep a volatile situation from becoming even worse by checking out rumors before passing them on. If you hear about a disturbing situation, let us know. We'll check it out and get back to you.

more false information
You may have heard the rumor that evacuees in Louisiana are being ordered to abandon their animals. In some cases, they have had to leave their animals but there are many animal rescuers in the area. The Louisiana State Veterinarian's Office has assured us that every effort is being made to reunite animals and people. The State Veterinarian's Office is now coordinating all information about animals stranded in LA. They have a 30-computer and phone bank set up, and are on site, so they are in the best position to combine data and forward it to rescue teams. In Louisiana, people reporting stranded animals or have found an animal should call 1-888-773-6489. Outside Louisiana, people should call 225-925-3980. Information may also be e-mailed to katrina@ldaf.louisiana.gov. The State Veterinarian's Office website is loaded with very good information and clear instructions.

more good news
You may have seen the wire story about the little boy who "cried until he vomited" when his little dog, Snowball, was not permitted to get on the bus removing the family to safety. The good news is that Snowball has been located and is safe according to Dr. Martha Littlefield, Ass't State veterinary with the state of Louisiana. Efforts will now be made to reunite him with his family.

Morning Update, September 5:

The ASPCA has received at least 50 emails and calls regarding 50 to 150 animals stranded on the roof of the Windy Boggs Medical Center (AKA Murphy's Animal Hospital) on North Jefferson Davis Parkway in New Orleans. The animals are pets belonging to hospital staff, cared for by one dedicated doctor who purportedly refused to be evacuated with the other staff members. As a result, he and the animals were quickly running out of food and water.

As of Monday morning, a caravan of animal control vehicles, zodiac boats, equipment and personnel from groups including ASPCA, HSUS, Code 3, United Animal Nation, ARL of Boston and the Louisiana SPCA were en route to New Orleans to rescue the animals from Murphy’s Animal Hospital. The caravan will also pick up any animals they find stranded along the route.

The ASPCA and other organizations, including HSUS, Best Friends, United Animal Nation, Petfinder.com, are working to identify and log pets in need of rescue in affected areas. A database is being compiled and provided to animal rescuers, and will be posted on Petfinder.com shortly.

Good news! Thirty-five dogs have been loaded onto the Rescue Waggin in Gonzales, and are on their way to safe haven at the Houston SPCA! Additionally, 75 dogs have been rescued from the Superdome.

austin, texas
Good news from the Austin evacuation center, where the first evacuee dog has been reunited with his owner! This puppy's guardian is a 14-year-old girl, who arrived at the Austin evacuation center with her family members. The puppy was a gift from her father, whose whereabouts are unknown at this time.

The Austin Humane Society (AHS), in conjunction with The City of Austin Town Lake Animal Center and the ASPCA, has 75 evacuated animals in temporary care. Staffers are still working around the clock at relief facilities to help provide evacuee pets with a safe haven. AHS has set up a Pet Hotline (512-646-PETS) for evacuees moving to Austin who need to find care, placement and supplies for their family pets. Eight pets have now been reunited with their displaced owners.
Click here to see photos taken at the Austin evacuation center.

Morning Update, September 3:

As of Friday evening, we were close to one million dollars in donations for direct shelter grants! Thank you to everyone who has given so generously. If you would like to donate, you can call our toll-free number, (866) 275-3923, or give online. The more money we raise, the more we can help shelters in need—100 % of funds will be donated to shelters in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Several ASPCA National Outreach staffers spent a good part of Friday tracking down large, extra-large and giant collapsible dog crates that we could purchase and expedite to the Houston SPCA and the Louisiana SPCA staging area. We were able to locate and purchase 1,000 crates.

The PETCO Foundation has an additional 90 crates en-route to the Houston SPCA.

Pets in Distress (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) has food and equipment ready to ship to several points in Mississippi and Louisiana.

The ASPCA trailer arrived in Jackson, MS, at 9:30 Friday evening. They will keep us apprised of their efforts over the weekend.

The Mississippi Animal Refuge League (MARL) reports that HSUS and the State Dept. of Agriculture are operating an emergency shelter at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds in Jackson.

There are 500-plus animals in Tyler Town, MS, evacuated from the Humane Society of Louisiana and the St. Francis Animal Sanctuary. They are in need of a generator and supplies.

The Louisiana SPCA has begun rescue efforts for animals left behind in the Greater New Orleans area. Animals are being brought to the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, LA, which is serving as a staging center for displaced animals. They will soon be uploading photos of displaced pets onto Petfinder.com for people to look for lost pets.

The Houston SPCA has been doing a heroic job taking in animals from the Louisiana SPCA staging area in Gonzales and from families seeking refuge in Red Cross shelters. As of Friday morning, the Houston SPCA had already admitted 700 animals and expects that they could receive 1,000 more. The Houston SPCA staff is working round-the-clock to care for animals so that families devastated by this tragedy will not also be confronted with losing their pets.

Dr. Andrew Lang, director of the ASPCA Equine Program, will be issuing a grant to the Emergency Equine Response Unit to purchase “water buffaloes” (300-500 gallon tanks) and pumps, and an extra diesel tank for their truck, so they can head south to assist in the rescue efforts.

Late afternoon update, September 2:

As we write this, ASPCA Southern Regional Shelter Outreach Manager Laura Lanza is busy compiling lists to help with rescues and contacting local shelters in affected areas to determine their immediate needs. Having spent 18 years as a director at Calcasieu Parish Animal Services, Laura is very familiar with the Gulf Region, and has many friends and colleagues in the area. She is serving as the ASPCA point person for calls and email inquiries about relief efforts.

We'll be checking in with Laura as she begins to receive feedback from groups, and we'll share it with you. We know how frustrating it is for those who are so faraway, watching television reports and wanting to do something to help. Please check our website for updates often--we'll keep you up-to-date on new information, progress made, and ways that you can help.

A large number of people and animals have been evacuated to Austin, where the Red Cross has set up a shelter for people at the Toney Berger Center on Highway 290. ASPCA Shelter Outreach director Karen Medicus, a former shelter director in Austin, is helping local groups coordinate efforts. Many people are calling the Red Cross, asking about shelter for their pets. They have identified a staging area for animals who may be brought here. We'll be checking with Karen for updates and pictures. For more information about efforts in Austin, call (512) 646-PETS.

Our team of veterinarians, technicians and medical staff are right now on their way to Jackson. Soon to follow them is one of our ASPCA Cares mobile veterinary clinics.

Noon Update, September 2:

The Houston SPCA has been working tirelessly to help the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina, and shelter staffers have taken on a lion’s share of the recovery efforts. They are housing 275 animals evacuated from the Louisiana SPCA, and last night alone they took in 300 more animals, including pets belonging to evacuees staying in Houston-area shelters.

The ASPCA has just purchased 300 crates, which will be drop-shipped immediately to the Houston SPCA. Additionally, both PETCO and ACES (Animal Care and Equipment Services) have been helping us with donations for shelters. PETCO sent the Houston SPCA 100 large dog crates, and ACES has contributed leashes.

Evening Update, September 1:

A group of ASPCA employees led by Kelly Harrington, director of the ASPCA Disaster Response Program, have left for Jackson, MS, to assist Code 3 with their rescue efforts. Accompanying Harrington are Humane Law Enforcement agent Richard Raheb; Margaret McLaughlin, director of Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital’s veterinary technicians; and Sandy Monterose, ASPCA National Outreach’s northeast manager. They are traveling in the fully equipped disaster vehicle, which includes a 40-foot trailer and a boat.

The ASPCA’s National Outreach department has at last made contact with Laura Maloney, executive director of the Louisiana SPCA. All of the shelter’s animals were safely evacuated, and the group is now concentrating efforts on helping remove and relocate other animals from the area. Maloney and some of her staff are using a horse farm in Gonzales, LA, as their staging area. Violence in the New Orleans area is prohibiting them from getting close to the city, and they were turned away by the State Police for safety reasons.

Other Shelters in Louisiana:
- The LA Humane Society has evacuated to Mississippi and all the animals and staff are safe. They have issued a bulletin for help.
-The Bert Smith Jefferson Parish Animal Services evacuated to Washington Parish in the town of Franklenton. Reportedly, things are deteriorating there. Plans are underway to evacuate them to Gonzales, where the animals can be evaluated and moved out to the Houston SPCA.
- There are still many shelters we have not heard from. Petfinder.com is maintaining a list of updates from shelters and rescues.

There has been almost no communication from the Humane Society of South Mississippi (Gulfport).

We will keep you informed as we learn more; please check back for the latest reports.

* Thanks to Rae Domingues for taking the photos at the temporary pet shelter at the BlackhamColiseum in Lafayette.

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Contact these organizations to help victims of Katrina
(partial list)

Save The Children

World Relief

Red Cross

America's Second Harvest (Food bank)
(877) 817-2307

Habitat For Humanity
(toll free) 866-292-7892

Mercy Corps

Feed The Children

The Salvation Army

United Way

National Next Of Kin Registry
1-800-944-4804 (Number is for donations only)
This is completely volunteer operated, for more info go to the site.
~ Note: CNN has an alphabetical listing of hurricane survivors and their locations

Animal Rescue:
(866) 275-3923

North Shore Animal League

Noah's Wish

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Strong words for the deserving...

Ok. I would like for Kanye West to explain to me how he gets off pointing the race card finger at the media, how he can honestly say the government doesn't care about its own people. I must be an idiot, because I don't see how looting anything not nailed down, setting fires to what buildings that are left, shooting at doctors and nurses, firing on buses and rescue helecoptors, and rape is gonna help New Orleans get out of this mess. How is all that gonna help? Explain this to me, Kanye West. Tell me how people are gonna bring food and medicine when the minute they show themselves, they're getting shot at?
Yes, the entire city is still in shock. I've seen the entire range of emotion.. fear, horror, people in mourning, anger, frustration, rage, relief... And federal relief may or may not have done what they should have, fast enough. What of some personal accountability? The stocking up on drinking water at least when there was absolute fair warning of the hurricane? There were two days to prepare, even for those with no way out. That's plenty of time to fill a duffle bag with water bottles, nonperishable food and supplies. The officials said all weekend this was gonna be big.
As for the looters, arsonists, rapists, snipers... I have nothing but contempt. They're supposed to be part of the community, supposed to be pulling together helping neighbors and fellow victims of this disaster. The segment of drug addicts within the city's population - the mayor even said this himself - are those individals who have gone over the edge in this crisis. It certainly explains a lot, but makes it no less wrong. To be honest, I don't even consider them petty criminals. To me, they are domestic terrorists interfering with saving lives.
So... this is my piece, this is my opinion. Kanye West, prove me wrong.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Insult to Injury

Good morning, America
your sons and daughters are missing...
your husbands and fathers
across the board - Good morning.
Where are your friend now, too
long without a word, not a word
unless its "Let them eat cake -
let them break and enter.
Give 'em the food and medicine,
let 'em take the VCRs, designer
clothing, what little their neighbors
have left and anything else not nailed
to the rotting floor.
Good morning. How are ya?
You know me. I'm the voice of America,
the pathos of your conscience, temperance
you fools. Compassion? Vindication?
Temperance amid the overwhelmed.