Creatures Great and Small

By Mary EllisThe News-Record

Animal Welfare Society, humane group harbor area's four-legged flood victims.

Members of the Animal Welfare Society are running short on sleep since the flooding began in Miami almost two weeks ago.

In addition to the stray animals the society normally helps take care of, members are assisting with almost 175 animals rescued from the flooding that are temporarily housed in the equestrian arena at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.

The animals will be held for a limited time. The society is currently checking into Oklahoma laws pertaining to disasters to see what the time limit is.

People have until Wednesday to visit the animal shelter or the equestrian arena and identify their animals.

“They don't have to take them. We realize that the owners might not yet have a place to put them, said Jean Eslick, president of the society.

Fostering arrangements will be made with those who identify their animals.

Animals may be identified from noon to 4 p.m. daily or by special appointment. Call Eslick at 542-3413 to arrange an appointment.

Animals that are not identified will be put up for adoption.

“We have so many animals that I doubt they will all be put up for adoption at the Miami shelter, Eslick said.

Other shelters willing to put the pets up for adoption include those in Pittsburg, Kan.; Carthage, Mo., Joplin, Mo., and Owasso.

Many of the animals were rescued by trained volunteers with the American Humane Association disaster response services and its Red Star Animal Emergency Service Rescue Rig.

Debrah Schnackenburg, director of emergency services with the American Humane Association, came from its main office in Denver, Colo.

More than 15 other volunteers came from Maryland, Florida, Washington and California.

“Animals can be in trouble during a disaster such as the flood for many reasons, Schnackenburg said. “Some people will put an animal on the second floor in an attempt to avoid traumatizing it. Other times, people actually are not home when the flood starts.

“Even well-meaning people can leave animals behind during a disaster.

She recommends that people check the association's Web site, located at americanhumane.org, for recommendations on what to do before and during a flood.

The Red Star Animal Emergency Service Rescue Rig was parked near the Miami shelter. The large travel trailer can sleep up to 15 humans and comes complete with boats used for rescues.

We spent most of our time the first few days rescuing animals, Schnackenburg said. “Now, we spend most of our time taking care of them.

The American Humane Association, founded in 1877, is dedicated to the welfare of animals and children.

The association's mission is to prevent cruelty, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children and animals and to assure that their interests and well-being are fully guaranteed by an aware and caring society.

The American Humane Association's emergency service is available to help communities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to a team of Animal Emergency Services volunteers.

According to Eslick, help is needed.

The association's volunteers will be returning home Sunday.

“We desperately need local people to volunteer for two- to four-hour shifts caring for the animals, Eslick said. “We especially need about five people from 7 to 10 a.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m. every day. These are the times that all the dogs are walked and their crates and pens cleaned.

Although the rest of the day is pretty calm, volunteers are still needed throughout the day to walk dogs and comfort kitties.

Volunteers are also needed to launder soiled bedding. If bedding is badly soiled, it is discarded, which means the society needs donations of old towels and bedding.

Currently, donations may be dropped off at the equestrian arena on East Rockdale Boulevard.

Monetary donations may be mailed to the Animal Welfare Society, P.O. Box 975, Miami, OK 74355.

Those interested in volunteering may visit the equestrian arena where they can shadow an association volunteer.