Guest Author - Mavis Metcalf
People who live outside the area hit by Hurricane Katrina have resumed their normal lives – but in Baton Rouge, just out side New Orleans, the rescue of birds continues.
Donna, who runs the 911 Parrot Alert e-mail list, continues to drive into New Orleans every day to look for birds and she continues to look after the rescued birds at her home. She is surrounded by several volunteers, who also stay in her home to either travel to the rescue areas or look after the birds.
Many from the first wave of volunteers have returned home exhausted both physically and emotionally. It is difficult to find the time to sleep or to eat as they work tirelessly at their jobs.
Unfortunately now, the rescuers are finding fewer and fewer live birds and the birds that are still alive are in very poor condition. Birds that are injured or very ill are taken to LSU for care while the other birds are kept at Donna’s home. Volunteer veterinarians who traveled to Baton Rouge to help have provided veterinary care.
Careful notes are kept as to where each bird was found so when the owners come looking, they will be able to be re-united with their lost pet. The goal is to re-unite as many birds to their families as possible
Unfortunately, rumours have been started about birds being sold out of state and that the much needed supplies and cages that have been donated are also being sold. At first it was believed that these were started by an animal “rights” activist group, but it is now thought that this was a mistake by an uninformed FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) official.
The FEMA official arrived at Donna’s home with someone who was acting on pretext of looking for a pet bird that had not been taken to Donna’s.
The animal rights group ALF has been causing problems by attempting to steal birds while impersonating Donna and this is why they were suspected in the misunderstanding with the FEMA official. Since then, all the birds formerly located at Lamar Dixon have been re-located to Donna’s residence.
FEMA and the state have ordered that all the birds remain in the state so owners can locate them. Happily, several birds have already been picked up, but over 200 still remain, with new arrivals needing more care than ever.
Dr. Julie Burge from Kansas City, Missouri and Dr. Fern VanSant from San Jose, California are two of the veterinarian volunteers who have been helping in Baton Rouge. Dr. Burge has a website where she has kept a journal of her experiences there along with several pictures. You can read it here.
Mattie Sue Athan, a well-known bird behaviorist and author has been working with Donna and has posted her journal here
Janelle spent some time in Baton Rouge both at Donna’s home and entering New Orleans to rescue pets and has posted her journal with pictures here.
See also Hurricane Katrina and Pet Birds.
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