A mama cat, her two newborn kittens and a foster kitty orphaned by Hurricane Gustav have a new home: Best Friends’ Kittyville.
Rapid Responders Ethan Gurney and Jeff Popowich left New Orleans with the cat family on Sunday, September 7, heading for the sanctuary.
Also traveling from Louisiana to Utah with Ethan and Jeff are Napolean, a dachshund with a cranial fracture, and Rose, a pit bull with severe heartworm disease and hookworms.
Napoleon, who’d been hit by a car and picked up off the street by local rescuer Tanya O'Reiley, will need long-term care because of his head injury, says Patty Hegwood, animal care director with Best Friends, who has been in the field in New Orleans. At the Metairie Small Animal Hospital, Napolean was given emergency care.
Another dog in the refugee group headed for the sanctuary is Rose, a stray pit bull named after the veterinary hospital and doctor who treated her. Rose was found eating garbage on the street.
The team got her to the shelter just in time. “She was crashing,” Patty says. “If we hadn’t gotten her that night, she wouldn’t have made it. She was loaded with heartworm and hookworms. She has extreme medical issues.”
Josephine, the mother cat, who’d recently had a litter of three, was rescued from a New Orleans yard, and her kittens were found nearby on a sidewalk. The owners, who were at home but in the process of leaving their home until electricity could be restored to the area, surrendered the cat and kittens to the rescue team.
The team rushed them to the Jefferson Parish East Bank shelter, from where the Best Friends rescue team has been based. But Little Gustav, the weakest of the kittens, didn’t make it.
“The mother was in pretty bad shape,” Patty says. “She had a 105.5 temperature. She was panting and couldn’t get warm. She was really having a difficult time. She was freaked out, and one of her babies didn’t do well.”
To lower Josephine’s temperature, Patty fashioned a bed from ice packs and a towel. “She absolutely loved that,” Patty says. “She would nurse her kittens and then, afterward, get onto her ice-pack bed,” which was out of reach of her kittens.
Across town the same afternoon, an animal control officer received a call about a tiny kitten found in a neighborhood. The kitten, a newborn named Rudy, was also taken to the shelter. He mewed and cried our of hunger, so the team placed Rudy -- who coincidentally is black and white like the other two -- in the kennel with Josephine and her surviving kittens, called Hannah and Ike. To everyone’s relief, Josephine accepted the kitty, and Rudy started nursing.
“The mama cat has been a doll,” Patty says. “She’s a young mom who found herself in a bad spot. It looks like she’s going to be okay and will continue nursing.”
The new Best Friends residents – Josephine, Ike, Hannah, Rudy, Napolean and Rose -- are expected to arrive at the sanctuary in a couple of days.
Until then, they’re in capable hands. “Ethan and Jeff (a veterinary technician) are taking good care of them in an air-conditioned RV,” Patty says.
Story by Cathy Scott
Pictured, Rudy, the kitten, with volunteer Nikki Rose; Napolean, the doxie, being treated; and mama Josephine and her newborns.
Photos by Molly Wald.
Safety for Sherman
An investigation into the case of a Pomeranian/papillon mix named Sherman is sending a strong message to a New Orleans resident: Leave your pet behind, face the repercussions.
That’s what happened with Sherman. His person lived with him in a large apartment complex in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. She put Sherman in a kennel, all set to take him with her when she evacuated from Hurricane Gustav – or at least that’s what the tenant told apartment manager Stacy Spitzkeit.
But as Stacy was turning off the complex’s swimming pool pump just before evacuating, she was shocked to see, through a sliding-glass door, little Sherman all alone inside the apartment, in a carrier, sitting in his own waste. Stacy tracked down the apartment key from a maintenance worker and retrieved Sherman. She cleaned him up, then took him to her own apartment. Because Stacy was evacuating with her own two dogs, the maintenance employee offered to take Sherman out of town with him.
When Stacy returned a few days later, after residents were allowed back into the city, the tenant, who had returned home too, said she no longer wanted Sherman and that Stacy could have him.
Stacy’s response? She picked up Sherman from the maintenance worker and took him with her to the East Bank Animal Shelter in Jefferson Parish, just west of New Orleans, to formally report abuse and neglect allegations against the tenant.
Patty Hegwood, Best Friends animal care director who is in the field in New Orleans, says there’s no excuse for leaving without Sherman: “The dog is literally the size of a handbag. He’s little.”
She applauds Stacy’s actions.
“She’s a hero,” Patty says. “People should notify the authorities, and it should be well publicized that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated in Jefferson Parish. You can’t just ditch your responsibility.”
While the shelter pursues the case, Stacy is fostering Sherman. The shelter is covering the cost of neutering and vaccinating him, then they’ll help Stacy find him a home with people who will love and care for him properly.
“He’s a sweet dog,” Patty says. “He’ll get a good home.”
Story by Cathy Scott
Photo of Stacy and Sherman by Patty Hegwood
For more about Best Friends’ Hurricane Gustav rescue efforts, click here.
Check out our Rapid Response web page for more info on Best Friends preparations for the hurricane season.
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