Sunday, October 09, 2005


Well, we have arrived home safe and sound. I got home at 3:30 am myself, and slept til noon. I am looking forward to being with my family tonight for Thanksgiving dinner. Here is a continuation of Tuesday, with the reminder that parts are disturbing.

We had gone into town with another team. We each had our zones to search, but at one point we all met up. The other group (Danelle and Chelsea of team 4, and Dan and Casey of team 3) looked somewhat stunned. They told us of 2 addresses they had just been to. This is the first, in Danielle's words:

Deserted street, very quiet, power lines draped across the road. The address we were to investigate was on the second level of the house. We all walked slowly up to the house, trying to figure out how to gain entry. There were pillars on either side of the porch. I took a step to the right of the driveway, hoping to see a set of stairs that could lead us to the second floor. It took me several seconds to realize what I was seeing instead.

The dark tan sunbaked remains of a large dog was hanging from the chain link fence. We all stared at it in sadness and horror. He looked to be a lab or maybe a rhodesian ridgeback. It had one front leg caught between the house and the fence, the other was over top of the fence. Its thick leather collar was snagged on the fence, caught as he had tried to jump over the fence to escape. I could only hope that the collar had helped to end the animals's life without prolonged suffering. The four of us stood there silently looking over the body. It was in a moderate state of decomposition; its teeth and part of the jaw were exposed, as well as some of the foot bones.

Chelsea and Dan entered the house to check for more animals. None were found, and the house was severely contaminated with mold, so the finished quickly. We left to meet the other team.

An hour later we were more cheerful and focused on the job at hand, but still very distracted by the thought of the owner returning home and finding that their dog had almost made it. We all knew we had to go back.

Dan and Casey carefully lifted the dog off the fence and laid it on the ground beside the porch. "Sorry, friend", I heard. Someone before us had spray painted a message on a sheet of plastic fencing laying in the driveway. It read "1 dead dog-so sorry".

I know this experience was very difficult for all of us; my eyes still well up whenever I think about it. I don't think Chelsea and I could have prepared for something like that.

I should also mention that Casey and Dan had gone on search and rescue every day they were in LA. I admire their selflessness and determination. Thanks guys--you're amazing.

I went out with Dan and Casey my first day of search and rescue as well, and I agree, they are amazing. When this group told me that they had gone back to such a horrifying sight, so that the owner would not have to see it, I knew that they understood what I think many of the volunteers had forgotten. That each of these pets had a person attached to them in some way, that had already lost SO much. It seemed as though some of the search and rescue teams were mostly interested in how many THEY found. I think it had become a feel good story for them, instead of being unbelievably grateful that any had been found period, by anyone. Wanting so badly to help, going through all these houses and not finding anything was so frustrating...And then realizing that this was a good thing, that it meant that the pet had either made it out themselves, or already been rescued. My thanks to my team for always remembering that the people attached to the animal appreciated that we were out there, even if we didn't find their pet. Or if it was bad news, they at least were not left wondering what had happened to their precious family member.

More to come.

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