Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Dedication and Observation

Thursday of last week our team was asked to man a triage center in New Orleans. Rescued pets were brought to the triage area, where they were examined by the veterinarian. Those stable enough were transported to a shelter 2 hours away in Mississippi. Those not were stabilized as possible, and transported to the Emergency Hospital newly opened.

I spent the morning making phone calls and arrangement's for team 5, arriving that day. They arrived around noon. I gave them a tour of the Lamar-Dixon grounds. I was certain they would want to rest for the day, as they had been traveling for 24 hours, but most of them wanted to get right to work. I arranged for them to help out in Barn 2 walking, feeding and cleaning. They spent the afternoon and part of the evening immersing themselves in what would be their life for the next week. A truly dedicated group, considering most of them had only a few hours of sleep.

While group 5 was working at the barns, I spent a few hours updating the blog. I got only part of one day done--so much had happened. The folks in the Red Cross building were so gracious at letting me use one of their computers.

As I was walking back to the barn area to grab some dinner and check on the team, I walked past 2 tractor trailers that were being filled with dogs in crates preparing to be exported to other shelters. I was surprised at my emotional response. I caught my breath at the sight of all those kennels. So many lost dogs; so many people without their beloved furry family members. As I continued on to the barns, I stopped to chat with a few of the people waiting to take their charges to the export trailer. From all over the states, from all different professions, for all different reasons, they were there to help. Animal lovers are wonderful people!

I met up with a few of the group at the food tent; they said their day was going well. Just stopping for a bite to eat before getting back to work. I headed back to the volunteer tent to get an update on the triage center from my team. They had some amazing stories.

They had many animals come through in relatively good shape, and a few in not so good shape. A few of their more memorable:

A black shepherd named Diggy. He was very dehydrated. They hooked him up to an IV catheter and fluids (remember they are in a grocery store parking lot!) and give him a bit of food. Tara Lee was walking with him, holding up his fluid bag. After about a litre and a half, She notices he is starting to act strangely; he is holding his ears funny, and his back end doesn't want to work. She calls Gord over, who reexamines the dog. Gord can palpate an intussusception (this is where the intestine 'telescopes' inside itself). Diggy probably was so dehydrated, he could be bothered, but with IV fluids, he felt better enough to feel sick. He was taken to the emergency hospital that had just opened up. He was taken to surgery, where a mass was found on his intestine at the site of the intussusception. That part of his intestine was removed, as well as a biopsy taken of a spot on his liver. He was doing well after surgery and the next morning. They were awaiting histopathology results when we left. I think it is so great that Tara Lee recognized that something was wrong with this guy. A lot of these patients were given IV fluids and shipped off to Mississippi. If Diggy had made that trip, he may not have made it. Way to go Team Canada!!!

Another was simply #41. He was in respiratory distress when he came in to triage. He also was taken to the emerg hospital, where he was diagnosed with pulmonary edema (fluid on the lungs). This was likely due to his heavy heartworm infestation. Down there, if a dog is outside, and not on heartworm prevention, they have it. Cats too. One of the reasons why I personally think it is not a good idea to be bringing these guys back with us--we don't have heartworm in the Lower Mainland, and we don't need it! But I digress. The cool thing about this case, I thought, was that he was one of a bonded pair. This emergency hospital was so great. The allowed the other half, who was not in need of hospitalization, to stay in a portable kennel within eyesight of #41. They understood that these guys had been through enough stress in their lives in the past few weeks, they didn't need separation to be added.

The emergency hospital is Southeast Veterinary Specialists, Drs Rose and Stephen Lemarie. They had recently opened for after hours emergency care to help care for animals affected by the Hurricane. These folks were scheduled to break ground on a new facility the Monday Katrina happened. Instead, they continue on in their present facility (which includes a hydrotherapy pool), of which they gave us a brief tour. They were very short staffed, due to the fact that many of their techs had lost their homes in the hurricane, and were having to take time off to rebuild their lives. And yet they continued to take in injured pets. God bless them! I pray that they get the opportunity to build their new facility--small repayment. And I pray for their staff members who lost so much. Your new Canadian friends are thinking of you!

I think everyone fell into bed exhausted that night...Triage again the next day.

I did speak with the teams in LA today. They are all still doing well. They continue to do wonderful work, helping out at the prison, as well as at the Slidell shelter. Team 5 heads for home tomorrow, with Team 6 staying until Saturday. Great job you guys!

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