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Past articles that affect you and your pets


By Jo Helms      September 5, 2005


I truly believe that every citizen in the US held their breath as we watched Hurricane Katrina turn into one of the most, if not definitely the most dangerous storms to ever take aim on the United States and begin its approach towards the Gulf Coast. 

Even as the National Hurricane Center in Miami issued watches and mandatory evacuation orders were issued to low-lying areas and residents of Louisiana, everyone hoped and prayed that it would somehow turn away or fall apart, not wanting to believe that the worst possible scenario was about to happen.  Instead we watched it grow into a category 4, at one point even becoming a category 5, but decreasing back to a category 4, as it made its swing towards landfall.  A storm of incredible strength. Warnings were issued to the most storm-vulnerable city, New Orleans, LA, that a possible 25 foot storm surge could be expected and people were encouraged once again to leave while they could.  Some left but many stayed, for varying reasons, some economic, some personal.  Biloxi, Gulfport, and even Mobile, AL, also became direct targets as this massive storm veered slightly to the North and hit full force into the Gulf coastline leaving massive destruction in its wake.


At first there were sparce reports, leaving many families uncertain as to the damage, loss of lives, and whereabouts of friends and relatives.  As reports began to flow in, bits and pieces of information came across the wires.  Power outages hampered efforts to keep communication lines open.  Ham radio operators relayed information as did reporters, with the help of generators, who remained dangerously close to the impact areas.  While the world glued themselves to television coverage and the hours turned into days, the news was grim at best.  Emergency teams began organizing to launch efforts to rescue those in the storm damaged areas.  All this while, there were other victims besides people.  They were the animals that were left behind.  It is not this writer’s position to criticize or malign the speed with which this was carried out but instead to remain firm in my stance that there needs to be a plan in place to insure the safe evacuation of animals as well. If there is any fault, it will be determined after all is said and done.  I have seen the news coverage, as have many of you and the sad eyes of the dogs, cats, horses and countless other animals that are awaiting help as well. Humans who had to leave their pets behind for one reason or another. Massive efforts are underway currently to evacuate out as many of those animals as possible and get them to a safe haven, where they can receive medical attention, food and precious water.  Sanitary conditions in New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport and many other areas in the Gulf continue to deteriorate.  Decaying bodies, sewage pollutants continue to contaminate the water making it unsafe and even deadly for these animals to drink.  Most food sources are also contaminated causing the remaining animals who somehow miraculously survived this carnage, diarrhea and gastroenteritis upon ingestion.  The National Missing Pet Alert Network, of which I am the Administrator for, has offered its assistance in broadcasting any bulletins regarding transport of food, water, animal supplies and the eventual transport of those animals being moved to temporary housing.  Below is a list of web sites that can offer you up-to-date information on the rescue efforts and any donations that you may wish to make.  This is a proud country and we will survive but not without scars.  Our prayers go out to the countless families who have lost so much and who still search for their furry friends.  I am also including a link to a very special web site run by a dear friend of mine that contains a beautiful prayer for the animals who are still there waiting...waiting for someone to help them to safety.

If you can help in any way, please do not hesitate.  One day, it could be you who is searching desperately for your beloved pet.  The news coverage has been heartbreaking not only for the proud people of that area but for their pets.  One in particular was a picture of a person being placed into a boat while his companion stood on the rooftop.  The dog was not allowed on the rescue boat.  A single paw raised in a plea of help as the small boat pulled away with the owner begging for them to return for his dog. I can not even imagine how deserted and lonely that dog felt.  They deserve to be rescued too.  I may never know the fate of that dog, perhaps they returned later to get him, perhaps I don’t want to know but it will haunt me forever.. Currently, much has been done to help the animals but there is much left to do and this tragedy will not and can not be forgotten. 


Jo Helms-Editor and freelance writer for *What's WOO in the News*.


Please see the following sites to offer assistance:


Best Friends


Humane Society of the United States


Noah’s Wish


United Animal Nations






by Jo Helms   October 1, 2005


On Monday, October 26, 2005 the CDC held a Media Briefing on Canine Influenza hosting Dr. Ruben Donis from the Centers for Disease Control; Dr. Nina Marano from the Centers for Disease Control; Dr. Cynda Crawford from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine; and Dr. Ed Dubovi from Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostics Center to discuss their studies to date and the impact on the veterinary and petowner communties. 

It is well worth taking the time to read this briefing.  While questions still remain about this new virus, this will give some insight into what has already been determined.  I have received numerous reports from various dog groups and emails regarding the safety of people's pets at gatherings.  My reply has been and still remains: If you have older dogs or puppies, it may be wise to limit their exposure to areas where large numbers of dogs gather.  Both older dogs and puppies have lower immune systems and may have a more difficult time if they come in contact with an infected dog.  According to most reports, the virus mimics "kennel cough" which may make it more difficult to diagnose however practicing some common sense rules of thumb will help to minimize the chance of your dog contracting it.  Sharing community water bowls at events should be avoided and should be discouraged.  Having your pets vaccinations up to date is always important and proof is often required for participants of dog show events. Often public events involving dogs invites the opportunity for the public to bring their dogs too which can bring forth a higher risk of exposure.  Because there is some mention that this may be transmitted from dog to dog via human contact, handwashing after handling other people's pets is a good idea before handling your own pets, again a good practice. The briefing further explains that there may be as many as 80% of dogs that will develope a mild case but should recover well with appropriate treatment.  The most vulverable with be those with compromised or low immune systems.  At the time of this media release, there are only 3 states mentioned by the CDC having documented cases, however they are still doing research with incoming data.  If you do take your dog(s) to public events where there is a large gathering of dogs, please watch for any signs of cough, fever, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting or malaise and contact your Vet immediately.  We, as dog owners all know that there are never any guarantees in life.  Check with your local Veterinarian for updates in your area.  Here is the link to the CDC media briefing 


Please read this email:

03/06/04 02:16PM 
 I live in Wisconsin and the recent articles regarding insurance companies discriminating against dog owners has affected a friend of ours. She owns Siberian Huskies and was told by her insurance company that they will not continue her home owners coverage because of her ownership of these dogs and we want to start a petition to stop this insanity in the State of Wisconsin right now before it goes any further. Can you please supply us with ideas and suggestions that will help us ? There are many of us that feel that this is only the beginning. Right now it is a select few breeds but what is to say they can not expand that list and even include cats eventually. Home owners with mortgages are required to carry insurance so if they can't find an insurance company that will take them they must either surrender their family pets, which is insane, or lose their homes. Nice choice. If they move out of their homes, they most likely won't find a place that will rent to them either because of their pets and the almighty insurance companies telling the landlords too, that they won't be insured if they rent to people with dogs. This could, in turn, lead to people having to have their pets euthanized so they can stay in their homes or live in tents somewhere so they can keep their beloved family pets ! I have two loving dogs myself and I won't stand for any insurance company telling me that I have to give them up because THEY feel that I shouldn't have the right to have them as part of my family. I can't believe that they can just cancel people like this. Some of them are not even offering people the chance to retain a rider. How can we stop this? Please help... Thank you so much.
 Jo Helms-author of "Grizz's Story A Greater Courage"

From: doglaw doglaw <>

 Date: 03/08/2004 2:01:25 PM
Thank you for contacting the AKC's Canine Legislation department. We share your concern. Unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes deny coverage to dog owners based on breed. While these agencies are within their rights to deny coverage or charge higher premiums to whomever they choose, the Canine Legislation Department is monitoring the issue closely to see where we may be able to provide assistance. For information on this subject, please refer to the Homeowners' Insurance Resource Center on AKC's web site,  This section not only offers suggestions for finding insurance, it also discusses how concerned fanciers can work with their elected officials to get legislation passed that will prohibit this practice. Model legislation and sample letters to legislators are also included. Additionally, if your friend can provide the Canine Legislation department with documentation of coverage denial from your insurance carrier, we will send a statement to the company's headquarters stating AKC's opposition to their discriminatory practices. I hope this information proves helpful. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

From: doglaw doglaw <>

 Date: 03/08/2004 2:03:25 PM
 Subject: Re: Need some help please
 I would also suggest that you and your fellow dog owners contact your state legislator to voice your concerns. Many state legislatures are examining bills, which would put an end to insurance discrimination based on breed. Michigan and Pennsylvania already have laws in place.
Again, I hope this information is helpful to you.
 Canine Legislation Department
 American Kennel Club
 5580 Centerview Drive
 Raleigh, NC 27606
 (919) 816-3720
 (919) 816-4275 fax