Animal Cruelty Overview, Disaster Preparedness, Pet Care & Poison Control

Animal Cruelty Overview, Disaster Preparedness, Pet Care & Poison Control

This report broadly covers animal cruelty, its roots, causes and organizations that are put in place to deal with the issue; animal poison control such as toxic medications and toxic plants – pet reactions to various chemical combinations; disaster and emergency pet preparedness; hurricane Katrina overview; rescue and shelter information along with a complete list of animal shelter search engines / directories; basics of pet and dog care.

Cruelty to Animals – Features and Prevention

Image Source: RSPCA

Animal cruelty could be expressed in ways, broadly grouped in two categories: neglect, or intentional cruelty. Neglect is the lack of adequate provision for the basic needs – water, food, shelter, or care. Some examples of neglect are: starvation; dehydration; inadequate shelter; parasite infestations; failure to seek veterinary care when needed; confinement without enough light, ventilation, or space, etc. Ignorance of the owner is one of the possible reasons of neglect, which could be amended by law enforcement, via proper education and training on improving the animal’s living conditions. However, if the owner does not make undertake the required actions, investigators of the animal rights protection authorities can take away the animal ensuring that it will receive the needed care. Intentional cruelty involve causing a physical harm or injury on an animal. Even nowadays, hundreds of animals are heavily beaten, burned, poisoned or otherwise brutally killed in unbearable pain and heartbreaking suffering. Some forms of animal cruelty, such as fighting dogs for sport, date back as far as the 12th Century (Villavicencio, 2007). Cockfighting had been present in American history and culture, until June of 2007 when it was made illegal in the last of the 50 states to ban it, although the brutal blood sport still occurs to some degree.

Other intentional animal cruelty expressions include the violent training and culling methods used by organized, large commercial scale dog fighters, as well as the neglect to animals in the puppy mills, where they are considered only as a means for gaining profits. Although largely banned or restricted, canned (trophy) hunting still exist, in which animals (often – exotic) are kept in a confined area (e.g. fenced-in), in order to increase the chances of their killing (Pacelle, 2003). The Internet made possible the existence of new types of animal abuse through the images and videos of animal cruelty available, insanely watched by some for pleasure. According to some research there is a direct relation between animal cruelty and human violence, and a coexistence exists of domestic violence and pet abuse with childhood animal cruelty prevalent among the violent offenders (Adams, 1992; Ascione, 1997).

Animal Cruelty Prevention

There is evidence in some assumptions that animal abuse could be accepted as a precursor of the appearance of human-directed violence, as well as as an indicator of family crisis. Left as if unnoticed, untreated, and unpunished, animal cruelty can develop further and escalate. Fortunately, nowadays there are millions compassionate people, united in a range of local, regional, national, and global animal rights protection organizations and networks.

Image Source:

Led by religious concerns the first appeals for respectful attitudes toward animal well-being are believed to have started in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization (Bronze Age, 3300–1300 BC). Some of the earliest known legislation acts on assessing animal welfare include the Ireland Parliament (Thomas Wentworth) “An Act against Plowing by the Tayle, and pulling the Wooll off living Sheep”, 1635, and the Massachusetts Colony (Nathaniel Ward) “Off the Bruite Creatures” (the “Massachusetts Body of Liberties”), 1641. In 1822, the British MP Richard Martin proposed the “Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822″. He was later among the founders of the world’s first animal welfare organization, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or SPCA, in 1824 (RSPCA since 1840). The adoption of “Cruelty to Animals Act 1835″, and “Protection of Animals Act 1911″ followed.In the US the national law to protect animals was adopted officially (“Animal Welfare Act of 1966″), being the continuation of the anti-cruelty laws passed in different states (1828 – 1898). The ASPCA’s charter was signed on April 10th, 1866, giving birth to the first enforceable anti-cruelty law. Since the late 20th century significant progress in animal welfare has taken place (Phillips, 2009). Over a century later, a large network of SPCA’s and Humane Societies branches exist across the USA tirelessly preventing and combating animal cruelty. In Canada the most popular and powerful animal cruelty prevention organizations are the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Cruelty prevention - SPCA projects
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There is an initiative by several organizations to achieve a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) at the United Nations, coordinated by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, including Compassion in World Farming, the RSPCA, and the Humane Society International (the international branch of HSUS). A legal action can be taken after witnessing animal cruelty and neglect, and reporting it to organizations with cruelty investigation authority. Animal welfare organizations have been constantly promoting cross-reporting among agencies that handle abuse cases. Some television education or documentary programs (e.g. Animal Planet, part of the Discovery Network) have contributed substantially to the increased awareness about animal cruelty issues, and have showcased the work of animal investigators.

ASPCA highlights some common signs helping to recognize animal cruelty, such as wounds on the body, patches of missing hair, extremely thin, starving animals with ribs or backbone protruding. Other alarming marks are infected eyes left untreated, limping, lack of a shelter for outdoor animals left outside in extreme weather conditions, flea or tick infestations left untreated. Abnormal behavior to animals is also indicated by cramming animals into tiny cages in overcrowded conditions, abandonment. Illegal trapping of wild animals or animals left for extended periods in traps, or animals kept in dirty conditions (forced to stand in their own urine and excrement), are all considered cruelty. Organizations, such as Certified Humane have set guidelines and conduct inspections of businesses that raise, handle and slaughter animals for food, making sure the ways in which animals are not inhuman.


List of Cruelty Prevention Organizations


Animal Poison Control

Pet and animal owners should take special care to keep any potentially harmful substances and subjects out of the animal`s reach. Some of them could be extremely dangerous, even life-threatening. Compiled data of surveys by the Pet Poison Helpline, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC, in Urbana, Illinois), indicates that each year there are hundreds of thousands cases of animal and pets poisoning, or dangerous exposure to poisonous substances. Some of the most common are the prescription human medications -cardiac (calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers); antidepressants and pain medications (opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, etc.); cold and allergy medications (pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, etc.).

Over-the-counter medications (vitamins, minerals; herbal and nutraceutical products) can also cause undesirable consequences when ingested. Most of the insecticides used in the yard, home, or on animals are deadly poisons, and should be under strict control. That is why the instructions on the label must be always read before using any insecticide. Numerous lawn, garden, and household productscould be toxic to animals, especially the cleaning products – some of them corrosive, others causing obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. Human foods are often appealing to pets. For example, dogs could be poisoned by the ingestion of onions or garlic, grapes/raisins and Xylitol (a sugar substitute).

Chocolate can cause symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate and seizures. When ingested in high doses veterinary products and medications are another source of poisoning animal risk. Rodenticides, under the form of baits to kill mice and rats, could be particularly dangerous, causing internal bleeding, kidney failure or seizures.

Toxic Plants for Animals

When eaten up a lot of plants, either wild/cultivated, outdoor/indoor, garden/lawn, or leaf/flowering species can also be highly poisonous to animals. There is abundant evidence that, for example, ingestions of very small amounts of Liliescan cause kidney damage and failure and death in cats. The insoluble oxalate plants (e.g., Dieffenbachia, Philodendron, etc.) should also be kept under control. Ingestion of marijuana can result in disorders of the central nervous system functions, incoordination, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, in some cases – seizures and coma.

Sago Palm is considered to be highly toxic, especially the seeds/“nuts” -the ingestion of just one or two of them can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure. Some plants, representatives of the Rhododenron spp. (Azalea / Rhododendron), as well as the bulbs of tulip and narcissus are highly toxicto animals and can cause gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, problemswith the central nervous system, convulsions and heart abnormalities. The eventual result of the most serious poisoning cases could be coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.

There are a large number of plants that are considered to be toxic – Oleander, Ricinus communis, Cyclamenspecies, Yew, Amaryllis species, Autumn Crocus, Chrysanthemum, Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum), Pothos (both Scindapsus and Epipremnum), Scheffleraand Brassaia actinophylla, English Ivy, etc. These plants contain toxic substances, such as: cardiac glycosides, ricin, cyclamine, contains taxine, pyrethrins, triterpenoid saponins, calcium oxalate crystals, etc., and can cause severe poisoning symptoms – abnormal heart function, hypothermia, abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Among many, the severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, altered cardiac rhythm and rate, seizures, trembling, incoordination, and difficulty breathing, coma and even death.

The Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA) has recently reported signs as vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, oliguria, as well as cases of acute renal failure, within 24 hours after acute exposure associated with the ingestion of grapes (Vitisspp.) and raisins by dogs. There are some other potentially hazardous after ingestion plants, such as – onion (Allium cepa)and garlic (Allium sativum), the avocado (Persea americana), and the green fruit and flowers of tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), which can cause clinical problems in pets (dogs and cats mainly).

List of Toxic Plants for Pets


ACE-inhibitors Medications

Acetaminophen Medications

Acids Household Items

African Evergreen Plants

African Wonder Tree Plants

Alcohol Foods

Alkalis Household Items

Alocasia Plants

Aloe Vera Plants

Amaryllis Plants

Ambien Medications

American Bittersweet Plants

Amitraz Insecticides

Amphetamines Medications

Andromeda Japonica Plants

Angel’s Trumpet Plants

Anthurium Plants

Antibiotics Topical Medications

Antidepressants Medications

Antifreeze Garage Items

Antihistamines Medications

Apple Leaf Croton Plants

Apricot Foods

Arrowhead Vine Plants

Asparagus Fern Plants

Aspirin Medications

Asthma Inhaler Medications

Australian Nut Foods

Autumn Crocus Plants

Avocado Foods

Azalea Plants


Baby’s Breath Plants

Baclofen Medications

Baneberry Plants

Batteries Household Items

Bear Grass Plants

Beech Trees Plants

Belladonna Plants

Benzodiazepines Medications

Beta-blockers Medications

Bird of Paradise Plants

Black Locust Plants

Black Widow Spider Envenomations

Bleeding Hearts Plants

Bloodroot Plants

Blue-green Algae (Cyanobacteria) Plants

Bluebonnet Plants

Bone Meal & Blood Meal Fertilizers

Boxwood Tree Plants

Branching Ivy Plants

Bread Dough Foods

Bromethalin Garage Items

Brown Recluse Spider Envenomations

Buckeye Plants

Buddhist Pine Plants

Burning Bush Plants

Buttercup Plants


Caffeine Foods

Caladium Plants

Calcipotriene Medications

Calcium Channel Blockers Medications

Calcium Supplements Medications

Calla Lily Plants

Camphor Topical Medications

Candelabra Cactus Plants

Carbamates Garage Items

Carbon Monoxide Toxic Gases

Cardiac Glycosides Plants

Carprofen Medications

Castor Bean Plants

Charming Dieffenbachia Plants

Cherry Foods

Chinaberry Tree Plants

Chinese Evergreen Plants

Chives Plants

Chocolate Foods

Chokecherry Plants

Cholecalciferol Garage Items

Christmas Rose Plants

Chrysanthemum Plants

Cineria Plants

Clematis Plants

Cocaine Illicit Drugs

Coins Metals

Coral Snake Envenomations

Cordatum Plants

Corn Plant Plants

Cornflower Plants

Corticosteroids Topical Medications

Corydalis Plants

Cough Medicine Medications

Cowbane Plants

Crocus Plants

Croton Plants

Crown of Thorns Plants

Currants Foods

Cyclamen Plants


Daffodils Plants

Daphne Plants

Day Lily Plants

Decongestants Medications

Delphinium Plants

Deramaxx Medications

Detergents Household Items

Devil’s Ivy Plants

Dieffenbachia Plants

Diuretic Medications

Dogbane Plants

Dracaena Plants

Dragon Tree Plants

Dumbcane Plants


Easter Lily Plants

Effexor Medications

Elaine Plants

Elderberry Plants

Elephant Ear Plants

Emerald Feather Plants

English Ivy Plants

Ephedra Herbals

EtoGesic Medications

Eucalyptus Plants

Euonymus Plants


Ferns Plants

Fertilizers Fertilizers

Ficus Plants

Fiddle-Leaf Philodendron Plants

Firestarter Logs Household Items

Fireworks Household Items

Firocoxib Medications

Flamingo Plant Plants

Flax Plants

Flea and Tick Medications Medications

Flea Collar Medications

Fluoride Household Items

Four O’Clock Plants

Foxglove Plants


Garlic Foods

Gasoline Garage Items

Geranium Plants

Giant Dumbcane Plants

Glacier Ivy Plants

Gladiolas Plants

Glory Chain Plants

Glory Lily Plants

Glow Jewelry Household Items

Gold Dieffenbachia Plants

Gold Dust Dracaena Plants

Golden Chain Tree Plants

Golden Pothos Plants

Gopher Purge Plants

Gorilla Glue Household Items

Grapes Foods


Hahn’s Self Branching English Ivy Plants

Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Household Items

Hand Warmers Metals

Heartleaf Philodendron Plants

Heavenly Bamboo Plants

Hellebore Plants

Hemlock Plants

Herbicides Garden Items

Holly Plants

Hops Foods

Hornets Envenomations

Horse Beans Plants

Horse Chestnut Plants

Horsehead Philodendron Plants

Hurricane Plant Plants

Hydrangea Plants

Hydrocarbons Garage Items


Ibuprofen Medications

Imidazoline Medications

Iris Plants

Iron Metals

Isoniazid Medications

Ivermectin Medications


Jack-in-the-Pulpit Plants

Japanese Show Lily Plants

Java Beans Plants

Jerusalem Cherry Plants

Jessamine Plants

Jimson Weed Plants

Jonquil Plants

Jungle Trumpet Plants


Kaffir lily Plants

Kalanchoe Plants

Kerosene Garage Items


Lace Fern Plants

Lacy Tree Plants

Lantana Plants

Larkspur Plants

Lead Metals

Leeks Plants

Lilies Plants

Lily of the Valley Plants

Liquid Potpourri Household Items

Locoweed Plants

Long-acting Anticoagulants Garage Items

Lunesta Medications

Lupine Plants


Macadamia Nuts Foods

Madagascar Dragon Tree Plants

Marble Queen Plants

Marigold Plants

Marijuana Illicit Drugs

Matches Household Items

Mayapple Plants

Meloxicam Medications

Metaldehyde Insecticides

Methionine Medications

Methylphenidate Medications

Mexican Breadfruit Plants

Milkweed Plants

Miniature Croton Plants

Mistletoe Plants

Mock Orange Plants

Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Foods

Monkshood Plants

Morning Glory Plants

Mothballs Household Items

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue Plants

Mountain Laurel Plants

Mouse and Rat Poison Garage Items

Moxidectin Medications

Mushrooms Foods


Naproxen Medications

Narcissus Plants

Needlepoint Ivy Plants

Nicotine Medications

Nightshade Plants

NSAIDs Medications


Oleander Plants

Onions Foods

Opioids & Opiates Medications

Organophosphates Insecticides

Oriental Lily Plants

Oxalates (Insoluble) Plants

Oxalates (Soluable) Plants


Paintballs Household Items

Paraquat Garden Items

Peace Lily Plants

Peach Pits Foods

Pencil Cactus Plants

Pennyroyal Oil Herbals

Peony Plants

Periwinkle Plants

Pesticides Garage Items

Petroleum Distillates Garage Items

Phenylpropanolamine Medications

Philodendron Plants

Phosphides Garage Items

Pimobendan Medications

Pine Oil Household Items

Play Dough (Homemade) Foods

Plumosa Fern Plants

Poinciana Plants

Poinsettia Plants

Poison Hemlock Plants

Poison Ivy Plants

Poison Oak Plants

Pokeweed Plants

Poppy Plants

Potato (Green) Foods

Precatory Bean Plants

Primrose Plants

Privet Plants

Propylene Glycol Garage Items

Pyrethrins & Pyrethroids Insecticides


Queensland Nut Plants


Raisins Foods

Rattlesnake Envenomations

Red Lily Plants

Red-Marginated Dracaena Plants

Rhododendrons Plants

Rhubarb Plants

Ribbon Plant Plants

Rubber Tree Plant Plants

Rubrum Lily Plants


Saddle Leaf Philodendron Plants

Sago Palm Plants

Salt Foods

Schefflera Plants

Scorpions Envenomations

Scotch Broom Plants

Shamrock Plants

Skunk Cabbage Plants

Sleep Aids Medications

Smoke Inhalation Toxic Gases

Snowdrops Plants

Spider Lily Plants

Spiders Envenomations

Spotted Dumbcane Plants

Star Fruit Foods

Star of Bethlehem Plants

Stargazer Lily Plants

Stinging Nettle Plants

String of Pearls Plants

Striped Dracaena Plants

Strychnine Garage Items

Super Glue Household Items

Sweet Pea Plants


Taro Vine Plants

Tea Tree Oil Herbals

Thyroid Medications Medications

Tick Collar Medications

Tiger Lily Plants

Tinsel Household Items

Toads Envenomations

Tobacco Plants

Tomato Plants

Tree Philodendron Plants

Tropic Snow Dumbcane Plants

Tulips & Hyacinths Plants

Tung Tree Plants


Virginia Creeper Plants

Vitamins Medications


Warneckei Dracaena Plants

Water Hemlock Plants

Weeping Fig Plants

Windshield Wiper Fluid Garage Items

Wisteria Plants

Wood Lily Plants


Xylitol Foods


Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow Plants

Yew Plants

Yucca Plants



Poisoned Pet – How to Safeguard and What to do When Your Pet is Poisoned

Pet owners must be always prepared to react in cases of poisoning, as well as in other kinds of emergencies. If the pet is suspected to have ingested any poisonous or questionable substance, help must be immediately sought by a veterinarian. In such cases, the accurate and timely identification of the substance in question, is extremely important.

There are valuable instructions by the Animal Poison Control Center(ASPCA, 2014) concerning emergency pet preparedness. They advise that having the container, package, or label in hand can save valuable time and may save the life of the pet. Any material involved should be safely collected and be at hand, which could be of great benefit to the vet in determining the type of poison or poisons involved. If you need to take your pet to a local veterinarian, be sure to take the product’s container with you. The following information should be readily available and submitted:

  • The species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved.
  • The animal’s symptoms.
  • Information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known), the amount of the agent involved and the time elapsed since the time of exposure.

If the animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, you should telephone ahead and bring your pet immediately to your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic. You must always have at hand an emergency first-aid kit for your pet containing:

  • A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP (to induce vomiting)
  • A turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)
  • Saline eye solution
  • Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing)
  • Mild grease-cutting dish washing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination)
  • Forceps (to remove stingers)
  • A muzzle (to protect against fear- or excitement-induced biting)
  • A can of your pet’s favorite wet food
  • A pet carrier (ASPCA, 2014).

Disaster / Emergency Pet Preparedness

Pets are considered to have played a role in Katrina’s horror stories.What happened during the hurricane has been a bitter lesson for officials and organizations. They have ever since tried to ensure a degree of disaster preparedness in order to avoid a repeat, and to make it more practical for people to leave, if an evacuation is required, than to stay because of their pets. Certainly nobody wants it to happen, but the common sense and life experience demand that there is an action plan, including the care of the beloved animals, if a natural disaster strikes. There is evidence that leaving pets out of an evacuation plan can put not only pets, but also their owners, and even rescue workers in danger. Pets left behind during a disaster are at a high risk to be injured, lost, or killed. Pet owners have to draw a disaster action plan, including the care for their animals, and collect information on the type of shelters and assistance available in the area. This way their favorites could be accommodated and kept safe until the situation has improved.

dog_1By making a plan and preparing a disaster kit, the lives and health of not only your pet, but also yourself, your family, and others, are protected. First of all, familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that could take place in the area you reside, considering your options for pet care provision. Your pet should wear collars and tags with actual contact information, and identification. The plan has to include obligatory micro-chippingof your pet to ensure that you can find it easier if temporarily separated from each other. The microchip must be registered and your contact information regularly maintained up to date with the microchip company. If possible, provide a separate pet carrier for each of your pets, with its name, your name and contact information written on each carrier. It is recommended to familiarize your pet with its transport means before a disaster has happened. Some practice catching and transporting your pet in a vehicle similar to one you would be evacuated in, could be very useful. A leash or a carrier must always be located nearby the exit. Proper equipment for pets in the car (carriers, harnesses, pet seat belts) would also be advisable. In case you do not possess a car, it is a good idea to make arrangements with neighbors, family and friends. Your local authorities would also have more information on the transportation options available during a disaster. You may also need to decide where you and your pet are going to stay. Depending on the severity of a disaster, there could be two options – sheltering in place (at home), or sheltering away from home during an evacuation. If you choose to use a part of your home as a shelter, it is necessary to make the adjustments needed for a pet-friendly environment. Select a safe, interior room, if possible – without no windows. Any chemicals, plants, or dangerous subjects are to be removed. It is preferable to have a confined, closed-off small area, in which the frightened pets could get stuck in. If you have to implement sheltering during an evacuation, it is better to clarify the options with the local emergency management office, veterinary clinics, and local animal shelters for accommodation for you and your pet, if there is a need to be separated from you. Contact family, friends, or pet-friendly hotel outside the evacuation area, and along evacuation routes.

Some of the instructions on the necessary supplies, has been provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and could be useful for the preparation of a Pet Disaster Kit to ensure a smooth evacuation:

  • Food (in airtight, waterproof containers or cans) and water for at least 2 weeks for each pet; Food and water bowls and a manual can opener; For cats: litter box and litter; For dogs: plastic bags for poop;
  • Clean-up items for bathroom accidents (paper towels, plastic trash bags, bleach-containing cleaning agent);
  • Medications for at least 2 weeks, along with any treats used to give the medications and pharmacy contact for refills;
  • Medical records – Rabies vaccination certificate; Current vaccination record. If your pet has a microchip, a record of the microchip number; Prescription for medication(s). For cats, most recent FeLV/FIV test result or vaccination date; Summary of pertinent medical history;
  • A carrier or cage that is large enough for your pet to stand comfortably and turn around; Towels or blankets; Pet toys and bed (familiar items to help the pet[s] feel more comfortable).
  • A handout containing identification information (in the event you get separated from your pet); Current photo of pet and Microchip number; Pet’s descriptive features (age, sex, neutered/non-neutered status, color(s), and approximate weight)
  • Owner contact information (cell phone, work phone, home phone), Contact information of a close relative or friend;

A handout with boarding instructions, such as feeding schedule, medications, and any known allergies and behavior problems; Documents, medications, and food should be stored in waterproof containers (CDC, 2014).

Hurricane Katrina and Pets / Animals

KatrinaImage Source:

Storms are not unusual in the area of the state of Louisiana. According to data by the Hydro-meteorological Prediction Center (HPC), tropical cyclone makes landfall along the coastline two times every three years, and a hurricane makes landfall about once every 2.8 years. The National Hurricane Center forecast the number and category of Atlantic tropical storms during the season, providing information that Katrina was Category 3 when it struck on August 29, 2005. However, no one anticipated the severity and duration of the hurricane, the floods and devastation, the toxic sludge made of human waste and harmful chemicals covering everything. Pet owners expected mistakenly to come back a few days later, but, unfortunately, days turned into weeks.Left alone, the animals had to struggle to survive without supplies or care, some dogs remained in the prison of terrible hurricane, chained in backyards, and eventually left to drown helplessly.

Hurricane KatrinaImage Source: GRIID

Hurricane Katrina is considered the largest animal rescue operation in history. According to some estimates, over 250, 000 pets were left stranded by the storm’s destruction.There is no way to estimate exactly how many animals were left behind when Hurricane Katrina struck, forcing the evacuation of New Orleans. According to the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, around 70, 000 pets remained only in the city during the storm.Of those, about 15, 000 have been rescued, but only 20% of the rescued animals were reunited with their owners. Rescue teams from a number of local, federal, national, and global organizations, such as the SPCA, Last Chance for Animals (LCA), and Best Friends Animal Society, to mention a few, joined efforts in aid of these abandoned and exiled animals in the flooded and devastated homes in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The teams ventured into the polluted flood waters and broke into abandoned homes to rescue hundreds frightened, dehydrated, and starving pets. Medical treatment and care was urgently provided to rescued animals at the shelters and sanctuaries. Rescue workers and volunteers continually cleaned out cages and fed animals around the clock. Some reports highlight as

one of the biggest issues to emergency authorities during the disaster, the reluctance of the people to leave New Orleans, and stayed there, unwilling to leave their pets behind.A survey indicates that 44% of those who decided to stayin the storm were led by the lack of evacuation possibilities for their pets.


Rescue and Shelters of Animals and Pets

An animal rescue group (animal rescue organization) adopts pets, taking the abandoned, abused, or stray pets in an attempt to ensure suitable homes for them. Many of these rescue organizations are created and run by volunteers, taking the animals into their homes and care for them, waiting for a proper permanent home to be found. There are various rescue groups depending on pet types, but they are most common for dogs and cats. Rescue groups, specialized in specific breeds or groups of breeds also exist (Chipley, 2000). Some organization for animal rescue groups and breed clubs (, American Kennel Club, etc.) maintain databases various kinds of shelters and adoption agencies across the USA, Canada and Mexico(Sweeney, 2010). The maintains a list of contacts, primarily within, with information on breed rescue groups for purebred dogs in the United States.

Animal Shelter
Image Source: Arizona Public Media

An animal shelter is a facility that serves as a home for the homeless, lost, or abandoned animals; predominantly dogs and cats. In the past, they were called dog pounds. Shelters provide for the basic animal needs until reclaimed by its owner, placed in a new home, or with another organization for adoption, or euthanized. Public animal shelters euthanize animals, not adopted within a certain period of time. Some modern shelters and shelter-like volunteer organizations, controlling the pet population, are devoted to promoting pet adoption and more human care methods. Usually at the open-admission shelter facilities animals receive professional homelike care, sick and injured animals receive treatment, and the animals’ living quarters are kept clean and dry. However, there are also some shelters, which are just shacks, where animals are neglected, left to die from diseases, or fights with other animals. There exists a type of shelters, called “no-kill” or “turn-away” – they do not euthanize animals, use waiting lists.The turn some of them away, deeming them unadoptable.

They have been dealing with the increased cat overpopulation with trap-neuter-release programs, decreasing cat populations, and therefore – the burden on shelters. In the United States, many government-run animal shelters offer conditions that are far from perfect, with most of the incoming animals euthanized. The limited funding of such shelters to provide for the million new cats and dogs each year, hardly propose another choice but to euthanize them(Lewis, 2009;Galaxy, 2012). Several organizations in Canada, such as the Humane Society of Canada (HSC) support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centers in their commitment to protect animals, perform mount rescue operations, expose cruelty, contribute to pass animal protection laws.

In the UK, animal shelters and hospitals are run by charitable organizations, and are known as rescue or rehoming centers (the RSPCA, Cats Protection, and the Dogs Trust, etc.). Cats Protection, for example, is a charity, operating through volunteer-run branches and adoption centers (formerly shelters). The volunteer-run branches are people having a room or space in a garden, so that instead of visiting a dedicated adoption center, those wishing to adopt a cat visits it in another person’s home. On the other hand, Dogs Trust rehome most dogs which it cares for and it runs rehoming centers across the UK and Ireland, as well as two large mobile rehoming units (Dogmobiles) – large vehicles with air conditioning, carrying a small number of dogs from nearby rehoming centres, seeking new homes.

In the USA, three main pet rescue organization types exist:

  • A municipal shelter – a local government facility housing stray and abandoned animals, as well as animals that cannot be taken care of;
  • A no-kill shelter – a private organization, in which unhealthy, pet-worthy animals could be euthanized;
  • Not-for-profit rescue organizations, usually a network of volunteer foster homes (Biniok, 2009).

It is a common practice for the animal shelters to cooperate with rescue groups, due to the difficulty shelters have in placing healthy and pet-worthy animals. When shelters run out of room, rescue groups can help by finding volunteers who would accept animals in their homes temporarily. The main difference between shelters and rescue groups are that shelters are usually run and funded by local governments (Bial, 2011), while rescue groups are operating through volunteers, and are funded by donations. Some shelters place animals in foster homes, others are housed on-site in kennels. Some rescue groups have facilities and others do not.

List of Shelter Directories

Pet Care – Dietary, Health, Housing & General Care

In order to be a responsible pet owner, you have to understand your its needs, providing the pet with care, love, and attention. You should educate yourself and learn about the pet’s specific needs – dietary, health, housing and general care. An appropriate housing, adequate, balanced diet must be provided, and constant access to clean, cool drinking water. Regularly exercise your pet according to its needs. When training your pet, be kind and patient. Ensure that while unsupervised, your pet is safely and securely confined to your property. A sufficient companionship, and an environment stimulating socialization with other animals and people (particularly at a young age), will minimize boredom, and provide your pet with necessary skills. To keep it healthy, make sure your pet lives in a clean environment, and take it to a vet for regular checkups, as well as when health problems arise. This way will also provide all necessary vaccinations. It is necessary to microchip your pet and register it with your local council, so that you have better chances of finding it when lost. You might find it important to de-sex your pet to prevent unwanted offspring and some diseases and unwanted behavior.Groom your pet regularly, if needed. You should also respect the rights of non pet owners through keeping your pet under control while in public and by disposing of any droppings made in public areas. To keep your dog safe you should not let your in an open truck bed, and keep your pet’s head and paws inside the car. Don’t let your cat play with string, and supervise its play with items it can choke on. Keep it indoors, allowing it to live a longer and healthier life. Outdoor cats face dozens of dangers – cars, other cats fighting for love or territory, and exposure to fleas, worms, spoiled food or household poisons.

Dog Care

Dog care

Image Source: NCSPCA

There are some specifics in dog care, depending on their age, lifestyle, breed, and other factors. For example, puppies 8 to 12 weeks old need four meals a day, while those three to six months old require three meals a day. The puppies six months to one year old will best benefit from two meals a day. After your dog has reached his first birthday, a meal per day could be enough.For some dogs, it might be advisable to have two smaller meals a day. High quality dry food provides a balanced diet for adult dogs and may be mixed with water, broth or canned food. Your dog may enjoy human food (cottage cheese, cooked egg), but these additions should not count more than 10% of his daily intake. The “people food” can result in vitamin and mineral imbalances, bone and teeth problems and may lead to picky eating habits and obesity. Clean, fresh water must be available at all times. To keep healthy and fit, dogs need exercise, which can also contribute to avoiding boredom. The regular games with your dog will satisfy many of its urges to dig, herd, chew, retrieve and chase. By frequent brushing your dog you can keep it clean.You should check for fleas and ticks every day during warm seasons. It is highly advisable that your dog see the veterinarian for a full check-up, shots, vaccinations (when required), and a heart worm blood test every year, and immediately in cases of sickness or injury.Never attempt to give your dog medication which has not been prescribed.

You should follow your community’s licensing regulations for licensing and identification of the dog. The license attached to your dog’s collar, together an ID tag and implanted microchip, can secure your dog’s return ifit becomes lost. It is important that you start teaching your puppy manners as soon as possible.Little bits of food could play the role of a lure and reward. It is generally considered that female dogs should be spayed, and males neutered by six months of age. This could eliminate the risk of an infected uterus, reduce the danger of breast cancer, a common fatal disease of older female dogs. Neutering males is reported to prevent testicular and prostate diseases, hernias and aggression. It is considered that most dogs do not require bathing more than a few times a year. Before bathing, it is recommendable to comb or cut out all mats from the coat, and afterwards carefully rinse all soap out of the coat. The younger and smaller dogs could sleep in beds made of wooden boxes. To make it more comfortable, place a clean blanket or pillow inside the bed. If your dog is intended to spend a lot of time outdoors, make sure it has access to shade and plenty of water in hot summer weather, and a warm, dry, covered shelter when it is cold outside.



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