Published: Sunday, November 13, 2005
Valley welcomes animals rescued after hurricanes
By HAROLD GWIN
BERLIN CENTER Eleven of the last survivors of Hurricane Katrina have made their way to Mahoning County to begin a new life.
They weren't able to talk about their experiences, but from the way most of them wagged their tails, they seemed happy to be here.
The victims are eight dogs and three cats that arrived at Carefree Kennels on Mock Road Saturday afternoon after a four-hour drive from Napoleon, Ohio.
Bruce Zimmer, who runs Carefree Kennels with his wife, Michele, was responsible for getting the animals here, and all of them are up for adoption.
The couple and their daughter, Caitlin, drove the 410-mile round trip to Napoleon in their pickup truck, towing a camper to get the animals.
Up for adoption
"These are the last survivors. I feel sorry for them and their owners, who were forced to leave them," Zimmer said. "They're going to live here until we can adopt them out."
All of the animals are from New Orleans or other areas of southern Louisiana, he said.
The adoption process didn't take long to get started.
Word of the Zimmers' trip had spread through the community, and Irene Dutken of Milton Township arrived at Carefree Kennels shortly after the Zimmers got home.
She was looking for a dog that her daughters, ages 14 and 17, could use in a 4-H project involving demonstrations and obedience, she said, and, after completing the necessary paperwork, soon left with Jamie, a 31/2-year-old mixed-breed female.
There will be no charge for an adoption, Zimmer said, noting that the animals got complete health checkups and shots before they were handed over to him.
The American Kennel Club and the American Boarding Kennel Association are coordinating this particular pet rescue effort on the Louisiana end.
Zimmer said that Gretchen Meinburg, owner of Pampered Pets Bed and Biscuits in Napoleon, arranged to have 100 animals flown from Monroe, La., to Toledo and sent out an e-mail to ABKA members asking for help in finding homes for them.
The animals were all bathed and examined and treated by veterinarians in Napoleon before they were handed over to ABKA members, Zimmer said.
Christy Cunningham of Pulaski, Pa., a member of Promises for Pets, an animal rescue and adoption group, was waiting at Carefree Kennels when the Zimmers arrived home.
She took a young, unnamed, mixed-breed female and said she planned to find it a permanent home.
Zimmer, who teaches at ITT Technical Institute when he isn't working at the kennel, said he was moved to participate in finding new homes for the animals after watching television shots of stranded animals that had been abandoned when their owners had to flee rising flood waters in Louisiana.
"They couldn't evacuate," he said.
Meanwhile, two animal rescue groups active in Louisiana said that state has blocked further attempts to rescue more animals.
Alley Cat Allies, based in Bethesda, Md., and AnimalRescueNewOrleans.com are calling for the state to reverse what the groups said is a decision to ban out-of-state veterinarians from volunteering services on behalf of the animals of greater New Orleans.
Rescuers have been threatened with arrest if they attempt to give food and water to animals in Orleans Parish, Alley Cat Allies said in a news release. Outside rescue groups have been told to turn all operations over to local authorities and leave the state, the news release said.
"Many of these animals are people's companions who escaped their homes when doors and windows blew open. It would be completely unethical to allow them to die on the streets," said Jane Garrison, director of AnimalRescueNewOrleans.com.