Planeloads of Pooches Homeless After Katrina
9/19/05 Reuniting Dogs With Families A Top Goal, By Emily Bittner, The Arizona Republic ~ Two military airplanes scheduled to fly empty from New Orleans to Phoenix instead landed in the Valley loaded with a vulnerable cargo: dogs abandoned in Hurricane Katrina's path. Two flights touched down in the Valley carrying 169 crates full of barking and crying dogs.
Their sounds filled the Air National Guard terminal at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as dogs began the last leg of a stressful journey. "These animals need TLC," said Kim Noetzel, Arizona Humane Society spokesperson. "They need exercise and attention. We're ready to do whatever they need."
The idea to ship dogs to the Valley came after Arizona Humane Society members worked in the New Orleans shelter where they were housed. Some of the animals haven't been released from crates in more than a week because conditions at the understaffed and overcrowded facility were so horrendous, Noetzel said.
When Arizona Humane Society leaders learned that two military planes would bring members of New Mexico's National Guard to New Orleans and return to the Valley without cargo anyway, they asked the Guard to bring dogs back with them.
The whole mission was arranged in less than 24 hours. A coordinator for the organization in charge of finding a way to transport the dogs from the airport to the Humane Society shelter searched the Internet for an Arizona livestock transporter.
The first name she saw was that of Bob Raney, the 74-year-old owner of Triple R Trucking Inc. She called, in a panic, at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Raney volunteered immediately to provide transportation from the airport to the Humane Society's facility in south Phoenix. "I saw all of this devastation on television," said Raney, who enlisted his brother-in-law and a retired driver to help out. "I thought that this was one way to be able to help. What little bit we give back is nothing to what the devastation was."
The animals on the plane were confused and frightened while they were being loaded on the plane but calmed down after takeoff, said Arizona National Guard Sgt. Jeff Kellow.
And by this morning, all the dogs will have completed an extensive process in which they are examined by veterinarians, checked for microchips, vaccinated and profiled on petfinder.com so their families can find them. Many of the animals wore tags and collars. "They belong to somebody," Kellow said. If efforts to reunite families and pets fail, Valley residents can adopt the animals.