The original plan had been to leave Baton Rouge around noon so we could be back in Kansas City by 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning and get a little sleep before work. Since I hadn't even had a chance to work on the birds at Donna's house, and I still needed to go to LSU, that plan was quickly forgotten. We started the morning with everyone diving into whatever they felt capable of doing. Some would feed and water birds, some would continue to move new cages into the house as more furniture was moved to make room, and I would go thru and do a quick exam and wing trim on as many birds as possible with Nell's help. We wanted to keep a record of every bird, but every time the phone would ring or someone needed help moving heavy items, the number of people working just wasn't enough to spare one to just stand there and write things down. Larry was planning further bird rescues based on new reports that kept coming in from owners on the Humane Society website so the crew could bring in more birds whose lives would be saved, and he kept trying to find a way to get a helicopter in to save the big bird flock.
After we went thru checking a whole bunch of birds, I have no idea how many, I sat with Nell and gave her all the medical supplies I could spare, leaving some for Donna as well. One Amazon had a ruptured air sac causing his neck to balloon, but it appeared to be an old chronic problem. Then we went thru the money that I had, and I gave $500 to Donna and $500 to Nell. I kept just enough to pay for gas for the van and SUV to get back to Missouri, and for one night in a motel, since I knew there was no way the three of us were going to manage another all night drive.
It was afternoon before we got the van loaded back up with what little wasn't needed at Donna's, and Vicki, Elizabeth and I headed to the LSU Parker Coliseum. My reception there was completely different from what I had experienced at LDEC. People had heard I was coming, and hugged me and shook my hand. The vet in charge told me to do anything I felt was necessary. A group of 50 finches had come in late the night before, and some of them didn't look too good, so that was our first chore. We were told that there had been over 100 birds in this flock, but only these 50 had survived.
The three of us spent about 4 hours in this room with the door shut to prevent escapes, and there was no air conditioning. Every bird was caught and examined, their overgrown nails trimmed to prevent injury, and most of the contents of the cages were removed and scrubbed. When we got done, every cage was clean, there were several food and water dishes in each, and we had removed the cockatiel seed and replaced it with more appropriate finch sized seed mix. Part of the group from Donna's house came over with a 25 pound bag of finch seed and other supplies we needed that had been donated since LSU only had a couple of small bags of finch food that one of the technicians had run out and bought that morning. One of the veterinarians came in a couple of times, thrilled that another vet had shown up who knew about birds. She was supposed to handle all the exotics in addition to some of the over 1000 dogs and cats, and said that no vet had even had time to look at the rabbits and other small mammals that were housed there. Our presence allowed her to go give those pets the care they needed.
This used to be Donna's dining room. The table was crammed full of new donated cages with cockatiels, parakeets, doves, and I don't even remember what other species. It was a blur of activity. Every cage had nice perches, toys, millet, everything a bird could want.
The kitchen table was covered by this brooder containing a little cockatiel with a broken wing. Dr. Tully had bandaged it when Donna brought it in from a rescue days before I had arrived.
It looked like Donna used to have a nice sunroom where she could sit and play with her birds or work at her computer. A few of these birds are hers, most were brought in by people when they evacuated. The big white cage to the left was one we brought from Kansas City, and the two Cockatoos in it now had a much better place to live instead of the tiny cage they had been evacuated in.
I never saw anyone actually sit in the sunroom, as nobody ever had time to sit. The computer is in a corner out of the picture, and nobody had time to turn it on. Larry sat on the floor with his laptop checking the Humane Society reports because there were no tables with any clear surface space to work on. Bird supplies were taking over the house, and every sofa was somebody's bed.
This is the carport, which had a roof and walls on three sides, but was open in the front. Most of the birds that were out here when we arrived had been moved into the house in the new cages we brought. As you can see, there were still quite a few birds out there. Thanks to a couple of donated playpen style dog pens, a couple of the crew were able to make a 2 to 3 foot high wall to help keep the raccoons out. Dog food was put out for them every night, hoping that they would eat their fill and not try to get in to attack the birds. Donna was planning to use some of the donated money to have someone out on Monday, September 12, to enclose the opening so the birds would be safe. From the left you see Gail Hale, Neil Powell, Donna Powell, myself in the back, Nell Knapp, Larry Knapp, Elizabeth Berg, and Vicki Berg. We all look tired and sweaty, but we tried to smile.
I asked Nell and Donna to pose with their $500 each so my clients could see where their money was going. The birds shown are probably in bigger new cages now thanks to donations of cages and supplies from all over the country. Nell and Larry had come from Michigan on their "mortgage money", not having had time to do any fundraising for the trip. K.A.R.E. is a nonprofit organization.
The finch flock included Java Rice, Orange Weaver, Gouldian, Star, Shaftail, Whydah, and a number of other rare and exotic finches I could not even identify. There were also 3 parrotlets and a lovebird, for a total of 11 big cages. The staff had taken over this room in the building and put all the maintenance crew supplies out in the hallway. The maintenance guys weren't happy.
One little finch was obviously sick and near death. Technicians had moved him to a tiny cage with food and water on the floor, but he had neurologic problems and could not even sit on a perch, and would fall on his side when disturbed. No veterinarian had been able to look at him because they didn't have time. I gave him fluids and antibiotics, and ended up bringing him back to Missouri. The veterinary hospital at LSU was so full of birds they could no longer accept finches, so the vet in charge asked me to take him. I had to get online and ask the National Finch and Softbill Society to identify him for me. He is a male Purple Grenadier, native to Africa. We hope to return him to his owner once there is a home to go back to. This was the only bird we brought back, as they are trying to keep birds near their owners.
It was probably 6:00 pm by the time we moved out into the barn where the rest of the birds were housed. Nobody was wearing a watch, and we never saw a clock. While the situation on the surface appeared similar to the LDEC, we found a world of difference. The two horse stalls housing birds were completely enclosed with mosquito netting, so if any bird got out of its cage, it could not fly away. A folding table was filled with every kind of seed mix, treats and supplies for the birds. The floor had been covered with plastic, and cages were sitting on folding tables.
The little cockatiel on the far right in this picture was one incredibly lucky and tough bird. His house had flooded, and you could see the bottom half of his cage was still filthy from where the water had risen half way up. He had survived for days clinging to the bars at the top of his cage with no food, and the fetid water below. Like LDEC, there were 20 some birds here at LSU, not including the finches inside the building.
Once again, there were rows and rows of stalls in the open air barn, with animals in all of them. The open gate you see is a stall that had just one Doberman in a crate. While we were there working on the birds directly across from him, two National Guardsmen stopped to tell us that nobody had taken the dog out of his crate for 24 hours. Owners were supposed to be helping care for their own pets here, but apparently they had not been able to come that day. Since he was marked as "dangerous", nobody had done more than give him food and water. Who am I to say no to a couple of big guys with guns? They got a leash, took him for a walk, and petted and played with him, guns slung over their shoulders. The armed guards were needed at all of the shelters because radical animal rights groups were coming in and turning animals loose.
We will never know how many birds died in the hurricane and the flood. These two were a couple of the lucky ones.
It was not entirely fair to compare LSU and LDEC. While both places held somewhere around 1000 animals, most of the pets at LSU were from known owners, while most of them at LDEC were strays found by rescue teams. There were people walking the rows of stalls and cages at both places, looking to see if their dog or cat or horse or bird or goat had been found. A lot of tears of both sadness and joy were being shed.
LSU was using the air conditioned space inside the coliseum to house many of the animals. Owners could come and walk, groom and feed their own pets when they were able. I saw later pictures of this room when it was filled to capacity.
It started getting dark while we were still checking the birds in the barn, and plans were being finalized that those birds were going to be moved to Donna's house the next day. I gave up on trying to get their wings trimmed because I knew that the crew at Donna's would be able to manage that. The three Kansas City gals finally had to stop, get in the vehicles, and start the long drive home with our one tiny sick finch.