Low Country Help for Frances' Four-Legged Victims - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/07/04

Low Country Help for Frances' Four-Legged Victims

During the mad rush to escape the path of a hurricane like Frances or Charley many folks forget about their pets.

Some lose track of them or they got away in the evacuation haste.

Others just abandoned them.

A lot of those animals are getting help from folks across our area.

Jodi Witte is Veterinary Technician hoping to bring truckloads of pet food down to Florida and the Bahamas, and her web site's helping find foster homes for hundreds of homeless animals.

Even though most people still don't have power, the emails have already started pouring in to www.AnimalHelp.com.

Her site is helping coordinate all kinds of hurricane relief for animals and right now, their priority is Freeport in the Bahamas.

The humane shelter there has no access to pet food, since the only store that sold it was destroyed.

"If we can get one shipment over there right away," explains Witte, "Then they can survive another week until we get more over there."

Once that immediate shortage's dealt with Witte will concentrate on Florida. But she's afraid she won't be able to find enough volunteers to help provide foster homes for hundreds of abandoned animals.

She says, "A lot of the people we used as volunteers and who gave donations just a few weeks ago are now needing help themselves."

Witte says it's a bigger problem than many people realize. During Charley, she helped provide food for thousands of animals and arranged homes for more than 200 pets whose owners left them there.

Chad Sousley, a volunteer with the web site says, "They'd rather leave with their worldly possessions and forget about their animals. I don't know. It's a sad case for sure."

Witte says the most important thing pet owners can do to protect their animals is to make sure they've got identification -- even if they don't have proper tags.

She's hoping to get a lot of volunteers here locally to donate pet food and storage space until they can get it on the road in a couple days.

If you'd like to help, log on to www.AnimalHelp.com.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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