New Orleans, day 4


In the post-Katrina debacle, Birmingham was fortunate to play a role in housing evacuees, both two-legged and four-legged. So many people melt when they hear about the littlest victims of the Gulf Coast flooding.

A homegrown no-kill animal shelter, Creature Comforts, sits in a Slidell neighborhood, just up the 24-mile causeway spanning the troublesome Lake Pontchartrain. Every dog, cat and horse has a story — and Roxanne, the owner, tells them all.

A New Yorker who found her way from Beaufort, S.C., to New Orleans, she has spent the last year dealing with lost pets and strays with little time for fund-raising. Her time here is drawing to a close, as she and her husband plan to head back to South Carolina in the near future.

But not before she finds homes for this assorted ark of creatures.

Our team headed out later in the morning, after home base cleaning chores. Along for the project were two members of Chicago Cares. Their 15 or so members had been working in Biloxi with Hands on Gulf Coast, but came out for projects in New Orleans today.

Bar, a retired schoolteacher who spent her 35-year career at one elementary school, and Lee Ann, a soon-to-be financial assistant at a college, spent a few hours with us before a night in the city and driving back to Mississippi.

At the shelter, we met Roxanne and her pal Jim. She immediately began sizing us up for suitable pets. Cain, a pit bull about to be adopted, nearly tackled me in trying to simultaneously hug and lick me. It’s as cute as it sounds.

Busy as ever, Roxanne had to meet the farrier to check on one of her horses. Jim good-naturedly guided us through the tasks for the day.

We cleaned cages (smelly), litter boxes (smelly), food and water dishes (smelly) — well, you get the idea. We walked many of the dogs, hosed down the kennels, played with the cats and smaller dogs.

Cain must have passed on the secret, as many of my canine charges didn’t feel satisfied until they had leapt on me to say hi.

Bar kept us going as we cleaned the shelter thoroughly. And Lee Ann earned a few scratches from one crabby tabby for her trouble. Ah, cats.

It was a shorter day, and thus, an easier day. That is, until we met the dozens of dogs and cats, beguiling big-hearted volunteers with baleful eyes, wagging tails and smelly charm.

Maybe you can’t get down to Louisiana to meet these furry friends, but you can lend financial support, to help buy feed or a new hose to replace the one leaking through the duct tape patches.

And you can keep these little hurricane survivors in your thoughts and prayers.

For more information, contact Creature Comforts at (985) 641-0929 or 60 Tortoise St., Slidell, LA 70461.

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New Orleans 2006


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