Dogs Rescued by Local Group
EAST COVENTRY - In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, two area residents
have banded together to save, house and then put up for adoption several storm-orphaned dogs.
Rachel Laskowski, of Collegeville, and owner of Griffen's Gallery in Phoenixville, and Kristin Murray of Primrose Lane Farm in East Coventry Township, have teamed up to give dogs rescued from the Gulf Coast a temporary residence until new homes can be found.
More than 17,000 dogs were left abandoned by the disaster, with only 1,700 claimed to date by their former owners, according to Laskowski.
Now housed at the Primrose Lane Farm kennel are 13 Katrina canine survivors,while nine other dogs have already moved to new homes with new owners.
"It's very rewarding," said Laskowski, on Tuesday. "You're rescuing somebody's pets, after people who lost them, lost everything."
Laskowski is about to take her fourth trip to the Gulf Coast since the August tragedy.
"People were forced to leave their dogs. They thought they were coming back in two or three days and then they were told that they couldn't come back."
Many of those orphaned dogs are turning wild or feral and are starting to run in packs. With many dehydrated and hungry canines, Laskowski has been working with five-member teams at the site to rescue dogs.
The teams often watch the dogs gather in school playgrounds, which are some of the few open spaces in New Orleans.
They then follow individual dogs to their dens, which are commonly located beneath homes raised two or three feet above ground level, during mid-afternoon naptime. Then they block the exits and get under the house and remove the dog.
Following temporary housing in the South, and often following a daylong drive, dogs - often packed in crates from floor to ceiling - are then brought to the area.
The kennel is run by Kristin and John Murray and a dedicated staff.
The first priority is to reunite dogs with their original owners. A 90-day time period was established, along with a Web site, to ensure that as many dogs as possible might find their former owners.
Now, dogs are held for only a short period of time prior to adoption before members of the general public are allowed to adopt.
"It's the one thing left that we can give (Katrina victims) - the hope and the strength to go back," said Kristin Murray, on Wednesday.
Both Laskowski and the Murrays were thankful for the support of the general Phoenixville community, and in particular the Phoenixville Dog Park committee and the group's Web site.
"Dog people are great people," said Karin Murray. "They are fantastic folks [with] big hearts."
Kristin Murray was touched by a letter from the former owner of "Precious," Joan M. Bauer, who said she was forced to give away the three-year-old cocker spaniel/terrier mix because of the disaster.
"Precious is a very playful dog," wrote Bauer. "She is very very sweet, loves to play, she can be a bit rambunctious, (wild). She loves it outside.
"I would love for her to find a home where she can be happy. I still love her ... I hope someone out there can love her, too."
Kristin Murray talked about what it's like to find a match between new owner and pet.
"I like being Santa," said Murray. "The human connection - to see the joy that's brought to a person's life - that connection when the dogs and people finally meet up."
Donations for veterinarian bills and transportation expenses are encouraged.