As the Deepwater Horizon rig continues to spill oil into the Gulf, its impact is expanding—both in physical area and species type. That includes companion animals. With so many jobs affected, some Gulf Coast residents are having a harder time caring for pets (to help those hit hard financially, last month The HSUS coordinated the donation of 12.5 tons of pet food to be distributed directly to residents).
Gulf animal shelters have been hit with increased relinquishments—in May, New Orleans’ St. Bernard Parish Animal Shelter saw four times more animals than that month in the previous year, and they expect the flow to continue. To lend a hand to these overwhelmed shelters and to give them more space to care for the animals coming in, this week The HSUS transported 33 dogs from St. Bernard Parish and the Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society to the Washington, D.C. area, where rescue groups offered to help the dogs find new loving homes. Be sure to watch this video of their trip.
We continue to also advocate for a major step-up in the wildlife response to this cataclysm and to prepare for the long-term effects. Here are some of your comments on the crisis:
What I have seen on TV and the Internet is so heartbreaking. I get a huge knot in my stomach and tears in my eyes every time I see those beautiful animals covered in oil. This is such a tragedy for them as well as the people in this region. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for going down there to help and also for sending all that pet food! It makes me feel better knowing HSUS is getting involved in this. —Karen Wagner
Kudos to the pet food companies [Mars Petcare, Inc. and The Humane Choice Company] that donated food to help these families especially affected by the spill. I will send them a thank you email to let them know they are much appreciated too. —Sonja, Arizona
Thank you HSUS. I can't stop thinking about the animals, the most innocent and no doubt bewildered victims, and the animals under the water that are simply dying a horrible death and sinking to the bottom of the ocean. It’s haunting. Please keep doing all you can to get officials to consider the plight of these animals, especially the unseen under the water. Thank you HSUS for the hope you give us where animals are concerned, because I really need to remember that hope right now and you are where I am best able to find it. —Susan in Niagara Falls
Thanks so much for the on-the-ground reports from where oil is washing up on shores and devastating fisheries and other water dependent species. Your accounts are ones we can trust and it is good to hear that resources are in place to treat oiled birds and other animals contaminated. I'll be checking in regularly. —Donna
My best wishes go out to all the people who will work to save the oiled wildlife from this disaster. I know from personal experience how much care these animals require, how depressing it is when an animal dies and how rewarding it is when they make it. Thanks for your good work! —Kristen Nelson, DVM
I am concerned about the birds, turtles and other animals that are cleaned up and released only to get back into trouble with the oil that is surrounding them. What a dilemma! —Evelyn, Tacoma
As a Gulf Coast resident, I would like to thank you for your efforts to help our precious ecosystem. I am comforted in knowing that you will be here to help. —Ashley
A footnote: I was touched this morning to read in The Washington Post that the family of Sen. Robert Byrd, in lieu of flowers, requests that memorial contributions be made to The HSUS, along with a mining disaster fund in Byrd's home state of West Virginia. Throughout Sen. Byrd's 58 years in Congress he was an extraordinary leader on animal protection issues, and his decision to direct more support to The HSUS is consistent with his unflagging commitment to our issues. Let me say thank you a final time to this great champion of animals.