When most people think of the animals affected by the Gulf oil spill, deceased sea turtles and oil-covered pelicans typically come to mind. However, the hidden victims of the tragic spill are the pets left homeless, as their owners are now unemployed and forced to give them up.
Several Louisiana animal shelters have seen an increase in the number of animals surrendered to their shelter since the April 20 rig explosion in the Gulf. According to ABC News, the director of St. Bernard Parish Animal Services, Beth Brewster, said she had seen unprecedented numbers of animals coming into her shelters. Her animal shelter brought in 288 dogs and cats in May 2010, up from 60 in May 2009, and brought in 25 new animals in a single day last week. “I don’t have an empty kennel right now, anywhere,” Brewster said, explaining that the 203 animals she had currently outstripped the shelter’s capacity of 98. The shelter took in 270 animals in June of this year. Among them, 38 were adopted, 33 were transferred, and 179 had to be destroyed. Brewster said the oil spill is to blame. “It’s those fishermen that are out of work,” she said. “They can’t go out and fish, they can’t go out and collect the oil.”
Fortunately, many out-of-area shelters are teaming up to help take the pressure off Louisiana shelters. Last week, more than 100 dogs were delivered by the Humane Society of the United States from nine Louisiana shelters and rescue groups to St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ. The majority of dogs will be available for adoption at St. Hubert’s while others will be placed with partnering agencies across New Jersey.
“New Jersey is a coastal state so we can comprehend how devastating an oil spill could be on a local economy,” said Heather Cammisa, president of St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center. “Our hearts go out to the families who were forced to surrender their pets and together with our placement partners; we will take great care of these dogs and find them the new homes they deserve.” Participating New Jersey shelters will each receive a grant of approximately $100 per dog from the Petfinder.com Foundation, made possible by their partnership with Merial’s “Paws to Save Pets” and The Animal Rescue Site’s Gifts That Give.
New Jersey isn’t the only state lending a helping hand. Three rescue groups in Washington, DC, rescued more than 30 dogs and offered to help find them new homes. These dogs will be made available for adoption through Loudoun County Animal Shelter, Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation and the SPCA of Anne Arundel County.
Celebrities are even reaching out to help. Last week, Pamela Anderson rescued two of the 50 abandoned dogs who were heading for a pet adoption program in Virginia. Anderson helped call attention to the overwhelming number of abandoned pets since the BP oil spill. Anderson, who is the honorary director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a news release that the organization is working with the Virginia Beach SPCA on an emergency “adopt-a-thon” to find homes for the animals, some of which were given up by people affected by the spill.
If you are eager to help wildlife affected by the oil spill, wildlife groups in the Gulf say the need for volunteers will grow in the weeks and months ahead. People wanting to help on the ground are strongly encouraged to seek training and experience and become certified now. If you are not able to volunteer to help wildlife affected by the oil spill, consider helping wildlife in your community by volunteering with a group near you.
Mark your calendars! C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Wags n’ Whiskers Festival 2010 is Sunday, August 29 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located at Girsh Park (behind the Costco mall), there will be animal training demos, agility shows, and “Pawsitive Thinking” activities for kids. You can learn about pet first aid and animal wellness programs. There will also be a raffle for dog training lessons, boarding, pet accessories, toys, treats, gift baskets, and more, plus dancing dogs and grooming on the spot! There will also be low-cost vaccinations, microchipping, and dog licensing 9-11 a.m. For more information, visit care4paws.org.
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Oso is a nine-month-old male neutered Lab/Staffordshire Terrier mix. He is a favorite with both staff and volunteers at the S.B. Humane Society; no one can resist the energy and enthusiasm of this pup! He is a good listener, smart, and ready to learn new things. Although he is extremely sweet, his high energy makes him best suited for a home without young children. However, Oso would probably not mind sharing that home with another dog. If you would like to come for a visit with this handsome fellow, be sure to ask for Oso #2 as we have another great dog who is also named Oso.
For more information, visit the Santa Barbara Humane Society at 5399 Overpass
Road, or call 964-4777. Shelter hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. You can also visit sbhumanesociety.org.