When one revisits the local history of floods and how they affect people and their pets, the story begins with “Agnes” and Helen Jones. Jones won national prominence with her work for the S.P.C.A of Luzerne County in 1972. Shelters across the state shipped food and funding to help the animal refugees of Wilkes-Barre stay fed and comfortable. Jones was the model “little lady in white tennis shoes”. The symbol of the disaster effort was the iconic picture of an elderly lady perched on a roof with her beloved cat, waiting for help. The motto of the shelter was a “door wide enough for all who need human understanding and care; yet narrow enough to shut out cruelty and neglect.” In the 1970s animal welfare had not yet blurred with the animal rights movement and funds were met through volunteers and among members of the shelter community–each meeting another’s needs. Thus Robert Hudson of the Women’s SPCA would pioneer in moving animals in need of homes from shelter to shelter wherever there was room. There were no lawsuits because of alleged misappropriation of funds as in the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) incident.
This tradition continued in 1986 when the Luzerne County SPCA hosted a humane federation conference with canvas bag gifts that pictured an ark filled with creatures great and small, domesticated and wild. (As always it is wise to investigate what donations do for local pet needs.)
Since then there have been other floods and each has had stories of rescue–during “Emily”, pigs were rowed to safety by volunteers–school teachers and dentists–on the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds. After TMI –a non-flood, but one remarkable for setting up an annex of shelters organized by veterinarian Tom Kowalchick of Berwick. It was the area’s first step in stressing that pets had become family members that should not be left to drown chained to their coops in the flood waters or left to wander. It was a list of temporary homes for these homeless refugees in local veterinary hospitals. Then, after Katrina disaster personnel recognized that 60% of evacuees who return to their home do so at risk of their own lives TO RECOVER A PET.
In Columbia County, led by retired veterinarian Dr. Larry Smith, the Columbia-Montour Animal Rescue Team (CART) formed. They trained. Del Monte donated green canvas evacuation bags that could be filled with toys, medicines, medical records, etc. CART members raised money for equipment. They held practice drills And, they set up “Annie”–a no-people, all-animal evacuation shelter for animals.
For the first time in 2011 the Susquehanna Valley marked the records of Hurrican Lee with a shelter set up for pets and animals.
Annie is located on the Bloomsburg University campus. It is named Annie in memory of a Shih-tzu who belonged to the immediate past president Jessica Kozloff (Annie’s ashes are scattered on campus).
However, in all disasters large and small it is always people first and not the four-footed family member. YOUR PET is YOUR responsibility, just as you are his. He is your first responder. When the power fails there is a warm body watching over you while you sleep, keeping you safe.
Sep 11, 2011 | | Uncategorized