When my husband Bill and I decided to undertake an animal rescue mission in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we thought we'd send out an e-mail appeal to a few friends and family members and I'd write a little piece in the Independent. We hoped those two outreach efforts would generate donations of supplies we could take to the disaster zone and enough cash to buy gas down there and back. The response from Triangle animal lovers was amazing.
We filled a 16-foot horse trailer with an outpouring of pet food, toys, treats, leashes, collars, bowls, veterinary supplies and medicine, bedding, crates, cases of non-perishable people food, cleaning supplies, tents, tarps, tools, shade shelters and rolls of fencing.
Checks rolled into our post office box and arrived at our doorstep in the hands of caring neighbors. They appeared in my mailbox at the Indy office and were handed to Bill at Chapel Hill Town Council meetings. In the end, we raised nearly $8,000, enabling us to buy many big-ticket items that were desperately needed, such as hundreds of battery-operated fans to cool animals in the unrelenting heat. We were also able to share the Triangle's generosity with many small local groups we encountered in our travels, who'd been overwhelmed with daily life-and-death rescue work since the storm, with no time to raise funds of their own and no end to the work in sight.
To everyone who contributed supplies, money and moral support to our mission; to everyone who forwarded our e-mail to two friends or 200 co-workers or posted it on neighborhood listservs; to local residents and businesspeople (including my bosses at the Indy) who offered space for drop-off sites; to supporters who followed our adventures via cyberspace and wrote us encouraging e-mails when it was tough in the trenches; to our strong son, Aaron, who spent many sweaty hours helping us load supplies and accompanied us in spirit all the way; to friends who took care of our own furry family in our absence; and to the folks at Independent Animal Rescue who helped us organize and are now caring for the canine and feline refugees we brought home: THANK YOU.
For more information about how to adopt a homeless dog or cat locally, see Independent Animal Rescue's Web site at www.animalrescue.net, where there are many wonderful pets, not just hurricane survivors, who need new families.
For more information about how to help Katrina's animal victims, here are just a few places to look:
To read Jennifer's reports from the field, go to the Current Events section of the Indy's political blog, Dent, at www.indyweekblogs.com/dent.