By Jennifer Vargas
The ASPCA and other rescue groups have been working hard this week to save dogs, cats and other animals in the path of Hurricane Isaac.
A particularly dramatic rescue took place at the Humane Society of South Mississippi, where 27 homeless dogs, such as Ace (seen here), were transported from Gulfport, Miss., to the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"We had space available for the dogs, and are very happy to help," Cherie Wachter of the Humane Society of Broward County, told Discovery News.
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The ASPCA transported the dogs in this 40-foot-long, custom-built trailer.
"Having been through Hurricane Katrina and responding to numerous disasters, we learned that by assisting agencies with pre-evacuation efforts and getting animals out of harm's way, we could greatly reduce the number of animals impacted by the hurricane," said Dick Green, director of Disaster Response for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team.
"The ASPCA is pleased to be in a position to assist the Humane Society of South Mississippi and be part of a collaborative effort to relocate these dogs and give them a second chance."
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Thoughtful and patient staff, such as animal care team leader Laura Morcillo, comforted the terrified dogs. Here, Morcillo is seen easing the angst of dog Wilma.
Puppies, such as this shy one comforted by animal care associate Sam Garza, were also rescued, as were cats and kittens. Shelters in Dallas and McKinney, Texas, received 181 dogs and cats from the Humane Society of Mississippi in Gulfport. This particular puppy was trucked to Florida.
The dogs seemed relieved to exit the trailer. "They took a 775-mile-long journey," Wachter explained.
The dogs were excitedly barking as she spoke to Discovery News during the rescue effort. Canine "Peacock" here is escorted out of the trailer by veterinary technician Dessiret Carrasco.
The rescued dogs have had quite an adventure this week, especially considering that they were homeless already.
Wilma didn't know quite what to think about all of the television cameras that greeted her upon her exit from the trailer.
"We are fortunate that we have the space available to assist the Humane Society of South Mississippi and hope their shelter is not damaged in the storm," said Jo-Anne Roman, senior vice president of Operations at the Humane Society of Broward County.
Dog Rocko seemed to be thrilled to be out of danger and in his temporary housing.
Wachter explained that, even if the storm did not directly injure dogs such as Rocko, the canines would have been indirectly hurt.
"People in the storm affected areas are not able to visit shelters as they normally could for adoptions," she said. "We are trying to take the pressure off of these shelters and to give the dogs a chance at finding permanent homes."
All of the trailer-transported dogs are now settled at the Broward shelter. Animal care associate Morgan Edwards makes sure each dog has toys to play with.
Green and colleagues are monitoring the storm closely and have organized sheltering and water-rescue teams to support the local agencies if needed.
The ASPCA is also providing emergency grants to those communities impacted by the hurricane, offering assistance to agencies such as the Louisiana State Animal Response Team to increase its water rescue capacity.
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As for the 27 dogs already rescued, such as this earnest-faced one, they will be up for adoption beginning Thursday at the Humane Society of Broward County.
People may visit their website at www.humanebroward.com, or visit the shelter at 2070 Griffin Road, just west of I-95 in Fort Lauderdale. Adoptions open daily at 10:00 a.m.
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