Louisiana Animals Still Suffering

While much of the focus of the country remains on the areas struck by Hurricane Katrina, the people and animals hit hard by Hurricane Rita are in need.

Allan Schwartz, vice president of Days End Farm Horse Rescue (DEFHR) from Lisbon, Md., has been working equine and other animal rescues in Mississippi and Louisiana, and his team is now on the Texas border in the Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes of Western Louisiana, which were devastated by Hurricane Rita.

"Everything's gone," said Schwartz of the Cameron area, which is right on the Gulf. "It's a huge cattle area, and they've lost 70% of their cattle. Everything was under water. So many of the cattle drank salt water that they are in really bad shape."

"Cameron is bad, bad, bad," said county extension agent Tommy Shields, who was reached today (Oct. 5) on his cell phone in Hackberry, La., in the Cameron Parish.

The area cattlemen's association is in need of cattle feed to distribute, and there is a need for horse feed, horse hay, and horse vaccines (specifically for West Nile virus and Eastern and Western equine encephalitis). Anyone interested in donating can contact Shields on his cell phone at 337/842-4245.

Shields, who is from Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish, asked that any bags of feed be stacked on pallets to make unloading easier since a local company has donated use of a fork lift. He said they have some designated destination points for feed and supplies that are being manned by locals and USDA officials.

Shields said he was in Hackberry (former population 1,699) looking at a roping pen full of 250 cattle that had been rescued. "There used to be close to 100,000 head of cattle in these three parishes (Calcasieu, Cameron, and Vermillion). My parish had 35,000 head of cattle, and we've lost all our barns and fences. I don't know what we're going to do. All of them need vaccinated, but I'm just trying to get to them. There are still a lot of cattle out in the marshes."

Asked how he was going to get them out, since even horses can't get into some of those areas, he replied, "Any way we can."

Shields said they are not to the point of thinking about needing fencing or other supplies. He said officials are trying to establish some contacts of people who can offer help now, and in the upcoming weeks.

Equine Rescues Still Needed

Schwartz got a call at 8 p.m. last night to attempt a rescue of a horse tangled in barbed wire. A veterinarian from the local shelter went with them on the rescue mission, but the horse's leg was so badly injured that the animal had to be euthanatized. "He almost tore his leg off," said a saddened Schwartz.

Their Day's End group has been feeding more than 100 horses. "The salt water killed the pastures," said Schwartz. "We've had a hard time finding horse hay. We got some grain last night, but we need about 300 square bales."

Anyone wishing to donate baled horse hay can contact Schwartz on his cell phone at 301/580-2918. Keep in mind cell phone service is still spotty in the hurricane-stricken areas.

Schwartz said because of the problems with "rogue" rescue groups in other parts of Louisiana, the western section of the state is being very restrictive of animal rescue groups. "We're working with the Calcasieu Parrish Animal Control," said Schwartz.

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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