This guest post is from Lindsay Pollard-Post, a Research Specialist with the PETA foundation.
Birds, turtles, and fish aren’t the only animal victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Countless cats’ and dogs’ lives were also turned upside down when Gulf-area residents lost their jobs or left the area and surrendered their animal companions to shelters. But thanks to Southwest Airlines, who generously flew volunteers to Louisiana free of charge, PETA was able to give nearly 50 dogs and 30 cats from severely crowded Gulf-area shelters a second chance at life.
In the first round of rescues, PETA volunteers, along with PETA honorary director Pamela Anderson, walked and gave treats to the dogs before loading them into a comfortable, air-conditioned RV for the drive to PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia headquarters. Pamela—who paid for all of the dogs' local adoption, spay or neuter surgery, and flea treatment costs—fell in love with two of the dogs and adopted them on the spot! The rest of the dogs arrived safely in Norfolk, where eager families were ready to give them permanent, loving homes or to foster them while they recuperated.
Less than a week later, PETA volunteers were back aboard Southwest Airline heading to Louisiana to rescue nearly 30 "special needs" cats who were suffering from illnesses, injuries, or chronic stress from spending many years in a shelter, waiting for a home. Pamela funded veterinary care for the cats—one of whom had a misshapen face and another who was missing part of a leg. Two desperate dogs—Sandy, a Labrador retriever mix with a flea allergy, and Cassie, a pug mix—also hitched a ride with the cats to Norfolk and were transferred to the Washington Animal Rescue League's shelter in Washington, D.C. for adoption.
Some of these cats are already settling into their new homes, but others still need a special person to give them a second chance. Virginia residents with exemplary veterinary references and quiet households who are interested in adopting one (or two!) of these hard-luck cats are encouraged to visit PETA.org [http://www.peta.org/] to fill out an application.
We can all take action to end the cat and dog homelessness crisis by having our animals spayed or neutered, encouraging and helping others to do the same, and always adopting our animal companions from shelters. Together, we can make a difference!