Friday, October 14, 2005

A Good Day

Our 7th and final team leaves tomorrow morning for LA. Team 5 returned today to Vancouver (very early this morning). Wendy came in to work this afternoon for our staff meeting. While she didn't share any specific stories, she was obviously very moved by her experience. She looked very much like I felt early this week. No words to express what she had seen and done. Just gratitude that she had done it, and a new outlook. I hear ya, sister!

Our final day last week was very moving for me personally. It was the day that I really felt like I made a difference. We were in New Orleans again, setting up a triage area. We moved it from the grocery store parking lot to a gas station: more shade and shelter from the hot sun. Quite frankly, I don't know how the team had managed the day before. From the heat to the smell coming from inside the grocery, it must have been unbearable. The pic below shows what the store looked like through a broken window. What a mess. I have no clue how they would begin to clean something like that up. It makes more sense to me to tear it down and start over...

As I said, we set up in a gas station, between the pumps. A table was set up with supplies, some crates set up as exam tables, and intake was organized. Kari Ann and Jessica did such a great job doing the latter. There was always a bit of confusion going on, and they made sure that paperwork was filled out correctly, and all these critters were id'ed so that they could be traced in the event an owner came looking. (On that note, great news! 2 kitties that were brought back to Vancouver to be fostered have both been returned to their owners down South. Jane of team 2 had brought them home with her. They were placed on, as all of the rescued pets were, and their owners found them!)

Pets started coming in about 1pm. The first was a lab cross that was quite dehydrated. Other than that, he was in pretty good shape. Tara Lee placed an IV catheter, and he was given a litre of fluids and then put in a crate with some food and water. He was a sweet guy, didn't make much fuss considering he hung out for most of the day until the truck was loaded. The pets rescued this day were bound again for Mississippi (if they were in need of further, but not critical, vet care), and others for Baton Rouge.

We had several more rescues brought in, some kitties, a bonded pair of dogs, and the usually assortment of pitties. My 2 most memorable:

Sheebi. She was a little lab cross. Quite skinny, but not in bad shape. Collar on, with rabies tag! I called the number and asked if they could trace it. Yes, they would call me back. They did, about 10 minutes later, with her name, her owners name, phone # and address. I asked if they could tell me what clinic the rabies tag was from, just in case I couldn't reach the owner? Yes, he could, the Prytania Vet Clinic, and they just happen to be open, he said. And he rattled off the phone number like it was his own. Hmmmm, sounds like it might be your vet. Nope, he is friends with the owner, though.

I called the owners number, no answer. So I called the Vet clinic and ask if they would be able to take Sheebi until the owner can be reached. Yes, they say! I was so happy, as was Amanda, the vet who had done the intake exam. So, we pop her up into the van, and off we go. The clinic is about 10 minutes from where we were set up. I can't say Sheebi was super happy to see her vet (she growled and snapped!), but at least we were keeping her close to home, and we knew she would be well cared for. Pic shows Sheebi, and her vet keeping his distance!

My other fav was a little Shih Tzu named Trey. I believe his owner had called and asked to have him checked on. This little guy was absolutely filthy and very emaciated. He had been sealed up tight in his house all this time. He must have been drinking the water that had flooded his house, or he could not have survived. He was examined, and found to have corneal ulcers on both his eyes--must have been so sore. We tried to clean him up as best we could, but it was only a sponge bath. We did spend some time trimming the hair around his eyes, so it would not rub and make the ulcers worse. He was such a little trooper. As anyone who has worked with the little guys know, they can be a bit snappish. Not Trey. I trimmed all that hair, and he only made a few little grumbles.

Next up was a snack. Oh, my. Dr. Gord was stirring up the canned food a little bit, to make it easier for Trey to slurp out of the can. Ummm, don't need no stirrin', Doc, just lemme at it. We got some into a dish for him, and he dove right in. Then he lifted his head, beard covered in food, and looked around for more. What a sweetie. More of a big dog fan, but this guy'll be in mind forever. I hope his people find him. He was sent to the emerg hospital to have his eyes checked out further, so hopefully, he ended up staying in state.

A few other memorables:

the little black and white pittie that had a very wounded eye--the anterior chamber of the eye was full of blood. Tara Lee was kneeling down with her in her arms, and the little doll was falling asleep. She looked so relaxed and contented, perhaps for the first time in 6 weeks. She also was sent to the emerg hospital.

the 3 shepherds that were all found together, a bonded trio. One was almost certainly early pregnant. She was adamant that she not lose her buddies. The other two had been put in crates, and she was leaning against one of those crates as far as she could without actually getting in. She was going into a vari-kennel, with just little windows on the sides, so I made sure that when she got in, she knew that if she looked out there, she could see her pals.

lastly, a very scared black pittie. I looked over at Amanda doing an exam all by herself, and called over to see if she wanted any help. No, she replied, I think this dog can only handle one person at a time. Amanda, if I haven't already introduced her, was our Oklahoma vet that we adopted as Canadian. We also adopted Dennison, or Jersey as I called her, a tech guessed it, New Jersey. Both great ladies. I really appreciated Amanda for recognizing that that little dog was very nervous, and just needed to be treated softly and slowly. Good job doc!

I must also mention the lunch we had. The army (?) (national guard?) had sent a truck to help the local electicity company do some work on the gas station property. Amanda went and chatted them up, and got us MRE's for lunch. MRE stands for Meal, Ready to Eat. Rations. Wow. I had a veggie burger, there was some pasta dishes, some chicken, beef meatloaf. Didn't think all those could come in a box. And you could heat it up, if you could follow directions. And you got fudge, or cookies, and dried fruit, and m & m's. Good eatin'!

The end of the day came, and the trucks were loaded. It is a little bit difficult to just watch them go, and never know what became of them. But we knew at least that we had helped them out, if not to be reunited with their owners, at least to be fostered and maybe adopted. It was a good day.

We wrapped up our stay with a down south meal. I even tried fried alligator! It really DOES taste like chicken. Well, the texture anyway. It was a nice evening, spent with great people that I feel I got to know very well in just a week. Or maybe not well, but I got to know the passionate, loving, dedicated side of them. Gord, Brenden, Sarah, Tara Lee, Danielle, Chelsea, Jessica, Kari Ann, Jen, Michelle, Jackie, and Chris, you guys are all amazing. Thank you so much for giving your time and your love for this cause. I will never forget the time I got to spend with you.

CAAT 3 & 1/2
(Chris, Jackie and Michelle missing from photo)

I am awaiting a review from team 5 and will post as soon as I get it. Thanks for continuing to read.

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