Area woman reaches out to four-legged storm victims
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
A Hartselle woman's giving spirit has not ended after completing five days of volunteering with hurricane rescue animals in Mississippi.
Susie Burgess traveled to Tylertown, Miss., Oct. 22-26, to help care for 350 dogs and 150 cats mostly displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The animals are being housed at the long-term but temporary Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and more animals are arriving daily.
Burgess, a longtime member of the no-kill animal organization, emailed Best Friends and offered her help in caring for the animals. She and dozens of other volunteers slept in tents on the grounds of the animal sanctuary while volunteering.
"Most of these animals' owners don't have homes yet, so it's understandable that they can't retrieve or care for their pets." Burgess explained. "All of the animals are posted on www.petfinder.com and are available for adoption. Experienced staff, veterinarians and vet techs have made sure each of these animals has been tested for illness, received shots and had any injuries treated."
But until the dogs and cats find new homes, Burgess said there is much work to be done.
"It takes about 40 to 50 volunteers and 10 to 12 staff to keep the sanctuary going day-to-day," Burgess said. "The animals' pens are cleaned twice a day, they are fed twice a day, they receive medical attention as needed, and they receive as much personal attention daily as the volunteers can give."
While the organization currently has a good stockpile of food for the animals, Burgess said she immediately recognized a need she would like to help meet.
"The dogs really need toys and rawhides," Burgess explained. "The dogs, especially the big ones, are bored and frustrated. They need toys to workout their frustrations and occupy their time."
Burgess plans to work with local residents and retailers herself to raise donations of items and funds in order to get the needed toys and rawhides to the dogs at the sanctuary. She will travel back to Tylertown at the end of November to deliver the dog toys.
"Best Friends is an organization I know and trust," Burgess said. "It's hard to believe the sanctuary could be as nice and as well-run as their newsletters and web site say until you've been there to see it for yourself. I know exactly where the donations will be going and that they will be so appreciated by the dogs and the people at Best Friends."
Anyone interested in helping Burgess with new dog toy donations can contact her Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at 773-4444, visit her at Edward Jones Investments on Main Street in Hartselle during the same hours, or mail donations to P.O. Box 1284, Hartselle, AL 35640.
Anyone interested in adopting or sponsoring an animal displaced by Hurricane Katrina from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary can visit www.bestfriends.org for more information.