Helping pets left homeless by Tennessee floods: an update from the field

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The International Fund for Animal Welfare animal-rescue truck, funded by the Foundation, is in Tennessee assisting pets left homeless by the Southern storms. Later this week the truck will head to Jackson, MS, to help with recovery efforts in Mississippi. This blog post, by IFAW emergency relief officer Shannon Walajtys, was originally published on the IFAW Blog. Used with permission.


Search-and-rescue expert Danielle with one of the cats she rescued, whom she is now calling Diesel.

Donate to the Foundation disaster relief fund.

In a disaster emergency animal shelter we always have a lot of work to do making sure that the pets in our care are as comfortable as possible during their stay with us.

Think of it as a hotel just for pets except that they get pampered with regular walks, food delivered to them, and of course lots of snuggles from us! The pets in this shelter are here because their pet-moms and pet-dads want them to be safe during the flooding and severe weather in this area.

Two days ago we received a frantic call from someone who needed assistance getting their beloved dogs and cats out of their yard. The whole neighborhood was flooded; children’s toys and debris floated along together as if it were commonplace.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare team was dispatched along with our partner agencies, ASPCA and American Humane Association, to recover the pets. Our highly skilled team members helped reach the three German Shepherd mixes without trouble and placed them in crates to be transported to the shelter.


IFAW staffer Gail A’Brunzo with one of the rescued German Shepherds

Now, the cats were not as excited about their trip to the lovely pet hotel I described earlier! One of the cats ran away from the rescuers and up a tree! Danielle (pictured), one of our search-and-rescue experts, rose to the occasion (literally) and climbed the tree to save the cat! The cat was covered in a grease-like substance and was hence named Diesel by the sheltering staff!

Four cats in all were taken back to the shelter and have adjusted very well to being pampered. Diesel had a bath and now feels and smells much better! He is super snuggly and Danielle makes sure to check in on him regularly.

As for the German Shephard mixes, they are spoiled by us, especially the folks who rescued them. In this picture (left), Electra is getting some special attention from Gail A’Brunzo.

We have a lot of dirty work that must be done for the pets in our care, but we receive payment tenfold in the form of unconditional love each and every day we serve them in this or any disaster-emergency animal shelter.

Tomorrow: Check back for more about the storm recovery efforts.

How you can help:
Donate to the Foundation to help treat sick and injured animals, care for newly homeless pets, and rebuild storm-damaged property.

Text 4PETS and your e-mail address to 20222 to donate $10.00 to the Foundation.

About the author: Shannon Walajtys joined the IFAW staff as an emergency relief officer in
December 2010. Shannon has a master of science degree in forensic science and brings more than 16 years of experience that includes crime-scene
processing, fingerprint identification, mass disaster morgue and
operations support, as well as biometrics. Her lifelong commitment to animal welfare includes experience in animal
cruelty investigations, disaster response, volunteer management,
technical rescue to include certifications, and most importantly, foster

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