HAPPY REUNION STORIES OF HURRICANE KATRINA BIRDS (AND A BUNNY TOO)
BeeBee is a whiteface male cockatiel. He was rescued and sent to the Lamar Dixon center where thousands of animals went temporarily until they were transferred to other shelters. Fortunately, the rescuer had made note of his address, and when birds were transferred from Lamar Dixon to Donna's house, his paperwork came along with him. I sent out dozens of letters to all of the addresses we had, and this one was actually able to make it to Jeffery, BeeBee's owner.
I spoke to Jeffery later by email, and he said "We had two dogs and one bird rescued. We fled with three small dogs, and had to leave 2 cats and 2 dogs behind. The 2 cats did fine on the food and water we left. We found one dog in Santa Clara, CA, and one dog in McKinney, TX. What an ordeal!"
Jeffery's house was in an area that did not flood, and he was able to return home much sooner than most of the other residents of New Orleans. He was one of the lucky ones. He also had internet access, and was able to post a rescue request on Petfinder, and to search for his dogs after they were entered on the site.
The owner of this sweet little cockatiel named Peaches was not as easy to find. She also came into Lamar Dixon with an address, and after searching the internet, I found a name that went with the address. I then looked on websites that listed Katrina survivors and their current locations to see if I could find Sybil, the bird's owner. I discovered that she had been transferred from one hospital to another, and was on dialysis, but could not determine her current location. I saw a listing posted by someone else who was also looking for Sybil so I emailed her to see if she had heard anything.
Lauri was a friend of Sybil's sister Annis, and had posted the note for Annis. Lauri called Annis, who called Sybil, to let her know that Peaches was alive. Unfortunately, her parrot Sarge had been found dead by the rescuers. Sybil had figured that her birds had died, and was delighted to learn that one of them had survived.
She has not yet been able to take Peaches home because she is currently living on a cruise ship that was brought in to house many of the homeless until they can return home or find a new place. Volunteers in the Stealth Volunteer Yahoo Group are still looking for her dog. This great group has helped reunite hundreds of Katrina pets by combing the internet.
This pied cockatiel had no identification on his cage, so nobody was sure whether he came from Lamar Dixon, LSU, or from a rescue team who may have brought him directly to Donna's house. In the early stages, the main concern was to save their lives, make sure they were healthy, and had a nice size clean cage with plenty of food and water. Only after the initial chaos had passed were we able to think about making sure we could identify them all.
I don't remember for sure how I first got in touch with Gail, who was looking for her cockatiel. I may have seen her lost report on Petfinder and emailed her as I sent out a lot of emails, or she may have called Donna since so many birds were listed on Petfinder with Donna's information. While I was at Donna's on the fourth trip, we called Gail and looked at a photo of her bird that she emailed us, and even held this bird up next to the computer screen to compare him. We thought he looked like the right bird, but couldn't be sure.
Gail later compared this picture that I sent her with multiple pictures of her bird, even using a ruler to measure and compare the markings. She finally determined that it is her bird, and her daughter planned a trip to Baton Rouge to pick him up around the new year.
This was one of the more difficult reunions since we had no information on this little guy.
This Fisher's Lovebird was left at LSU by her family as they evacuated before the hurricane. The only information on the cage was the name "Lupe Smith" (last named changed in this report for privacy purposes). Since LSU had been inundated with over 1000 animals both before and after the hurricane, it was over two months before I was able to get an address for her that was buried in their paperwork.
Meanwhile, I was searching for Lupe Smith on all of the Katrina websites to see if I could figure out where she had lived, or where she might be now. I had no luck finding anyone of that name, which was not unusual, because so many people who evacuated were not registered on any site.
When I finally got an address from LSU, I mailed a letter and went to work hunting down the owner on the internet by looking for the address. Although that did not work out, the letter got thru and the owner called Donna. The funny part of this story was that the only one in the family named Lupe was the bird! No wonder I couldn't find her on the internet!
The photo shows the reunion of Lupe with the 8 year old son of the owner on November 27. He thought he would never see his bird again since they had not been able to claim her before LSU closed their shelter, and his parents told him she had probably been adopted by new owners. Donna Powell is shown with him, delighted to see yet another bird go back to it's home, and at having one less bird to feed and clean in her own house!
911ParrotAlert went the extra mile when birds were being transferred out of Lamar Dixon by agreeing to take six bunnies as well. In fact, there were a couple of turtles and several snakes, although the snakes went to a couple of employees of the local PetSmart to care for while their owners were sought.
This sweet little bunny found his owner, Su-Jit, thanks to the efforts of Charlotte Kluza of the Phoenix Landing Foundation, a bird rescue group in the Washington DC area. I have mentioned Charlotte once or twice in my report, but haven't given her all the credit that she deserves. Charlotte arrived in Baton Rouge in mid-September, and I first met her on my second trip, when she became my assistant in trimming and examining birds. She had planned to stay for two weeks, but when she saw the need for someone to be there long term, she did what nobody else was willing to do.
She was fired from her job because of her extended absence, but found that sorting thru the mounds of paperwork and trying to properly identify each bird was critical, and nobody else stayed long enough to get it done. She fed birds, cleaned cages, did laundry, and when she wasn't needed for anything else, she shut herself in one of the bedrooms with her computer and created a complete database of everything we knew about every bird and every owner. Charlotte stayed for six weeks, only leaving because of a family emergency. She deserves the credit for finding many of the owners, and helping all of the animals that came in by giving them the best chance at getting home again.
Yes, I am showing a lot of cockatiel pictures, but there were several cockatiel reunion stories that were challenging. This one is an excellent example of how hard it was to find some of the evacuees of the New Orleans area. First, Tweety is a normal grey male cockatiel, which means that he looks pretty much exactly like every other grey male cockatiel. Second, a lot of steps were taken to find his owner, with several people contributing to the success of the operation.
He came from Lamar Dixon with two admissions forms, who knows why, but at least we had an address. I first went to the reverse phone directory site to see if I could get a name to go with the phone number, but no such luck. I entered the address into Google, but nothing came up. Without a name, I couldn't do anything more other than send a letter.
On one of her many trips into New Orleans, Donna stopped by the address to see if she could find any information. A neighbor happened to be there, and although he couldn't remember the woman's name, he said she owned a "Spanish music store on Magazine Street". Once I got that information, I was able to go to Mapquest and search for all music stores on that street. Several popped up, but the name "Musica Latina" looked like the most likely prospect.
I searched for a phone number based on the store address, but nobody answered when I called. Then I put it in Google, and although I still couldn't find the owner's name, I found a radio station mentioned several times in listings about the store. I went to the radio station's website, and found Yolanda, owner of Musica Latina, listed as doing one of their weekly programs. I posted a message on the radio station's website, but it took two weeks before I heard back from anyone.
Laura, who also worked at the radio station and had assisted with animal rescue, finally was able to get internet access, happened to go to the radio station's website, and saw my post seeking Yolanda. She got in touch with the program director, who found Yolanda's daughter and called her, who was able to pass along her mother's current whereabouts.
Tweetie is still staying at Donna's house in Baton Rouge until Yolanda's house is ready to move back into. She doesn't want him exposed to the chaos and chemical fumes associated with all of the remodeling that has to be done.
This Umbrella Cockatoo came in without an address, but was identified by the owner because he was able to describe the cage the bird was found in. Many Katrina birds that were rescued will never be found by their owners. After the hard work the rescuers did finding these animals and getting them to safety, people showed up at the shelters and triage centers like Winn Dixie, claiming to be bird sanctuaries, and took truck loads of birds away. Most of these birds were never listed on Petfinder, and were likely sold in other states.
I have reports from rescue workers who said they were greatful that someone who knew about birds was going to take care of them as they were swamped with dogs and cats to care for. They had no idea anyone would stoop so low as to steal the pets that may have been the only thing some of these evacuees had left.