Gulf Coast animals find refuge in Sussex County

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:56

    Sussex County n He wasn’t allowed inside because the animals were under quarantine, but Rich Hagie of Andover just wanted to help the dogs inside that had been brought to the Sussex County Fairgrounds from shelters along the Gulf Coast. Hagie brought some requested donations, such as dog food, bleach and paper towels for the 19 dogs flown recently to New Jersey from the affected areas and temporarily housed at the fairgrounds. “I love animals. It’s up to people to turn around and give these animals direction,” said Hagie. These pets are part of a larger contingent of 44 dogs and 12 cats left homeless by the hurricane that will be brought to the fairgrounds for a two-week stay. Katrina’s devastation displaced hundreds of thousands of people and as many as a million animals, said Karen Dashfield, a veterinarian and member of the Sussex County Animal Response Team, which helped the American Kennel Club organize the airlift. Many of the pets from the devastated regions are being brought to shelters in other parts of the country. Before they arrived at the fairgrounds, the Sussex County contingent was first examined at the St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison. “Some are owned, some are stray,” said Dashfield of the dogs now being cared for here. Most of the dogs are pit bulls or a pit-bull mix, and all have tested positive for heartworm, a contagious and serious disease. Dashfield said the dogs are being treated with donated drugs. Soon after they arrived, Dashfield said, the dogs settled into a routine and started to relax in their new environment. “They didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “It was obvious they had been through a lot.” They receive 24-hour care from volunteers, who operate from a travel-trailer outside the building. Following each shift, volunteers shower and wash their clothes to prevent the spreading of any infectious diseases that may have been carried north by the dogs. Searches are underway to find the animals’ owners through At this time, shelter officials are not accepting adoption applications. This is not the first time Dashfield has cared for displaced animals. When a propane explosion burned for nearly a week in Newton, she cared for about 100 animals displaced by that fire. “This is exactly what we’re prepared for,” she said, outside the shelter building. The shelter has received plenty of pet supplies but welcomes monetary donations. Supplies are also needed for the caretakers, including surgical masks, water, soda and sports drinks. For more information, call 973-03-3137.