I returned home the day before yesterday. I am very happy to be back, although my stay home will be short (more on why below). I have many photos to upload and share with you, although I might not have the time to write about each one of them. I will do my best to get them all done sooner, rather than later.
I also have big news! I signed on as the Cat Care Manager for the new Katrina animal relief facility opening in New Orleans. Best Friends Animal Society will be the umbrella organization running it. If you know what Tylertown is, it will sort of be like that, except the facility, called Celebration Station, is mostly indoors. Following is a quick rundown of what the facility is like, who is running it and what our goals are. I won’t bore you with details, but if you want any, please contact me and I will be happy to answer them to the best of my knowledge.
Celebration Station is located on Veterans Boulevard in New Orleans. It used to be a family fun center and arcade, but closed down about a year and a half before Hurricane Katrina. It received very minor hurricane damage (no indoor water damage or mold) and, after being cleaned up, is a great facility for what we are using it for.
The facility is being rented by Best Friends Animal Society, in conjunction with ARNO (Animal Rescue New Orleans) and several other animal humane societies who are providing funding, staff and volunteers.
The ultimate goal is to reunite displaced hurricane pets with their people. The facility will act as a way station for animals coming from several parishes (counties) in Louisiana state. There is room for 150 cats and 150 dogs. Volunteers are still maintaining food and water stations in the uninhabited parts of the parishes, and as soon as Celebration Station is able to intake animals, we will begin a massive trapping blitz. They estimate the facility will be up and running until the end of February.
Every cat and dog that comes through the building will be given a health check-up, recorded into a database, given a microchip (if it doesn’t have one already) and have its photo taken. The database is sent off each evening to Stealth Volunteers. With that information in hand, they scour the internet to assist pet guardians in finding their displaced hurricane pets.
All of this happened in a very short span of time, so on many levels it has not hit me yet. Many of the details are being worked out, as we just got the facility up and running in a little under 4 days. There are kinks to work out and most days things change by the hour. It’s a definite “go with the flow” type atmosphere.
I purchased a laptop so I may keep tabs on my life back home. Celebration Station just got wireless DSL up and running the day before I left, so I will be able to update my blog and upload digital photos.
This is a bittersweet time for me, as even though I will gain new friends, great experience and will be working with animals I feel such a passion to help, I will have to leave my family for two months. Even given these circumstances, I have faith we will come out of this stronger than ever. I leave tomorrow night to return to New Orleans and will stay the duration of this project.