While most attention was fixed on the human beings caught in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, there were many who immediately realized the plight of animals – especially family pets – who were truly in a life-or-death situation at the same time. The Humane Society of the United States became coordination headquarters for weeks, first engaged in rescuing animals; then housing, feeding, and caring for them; and finally either reuniting them with their owners or finding and transporting them to new homes. More than 10,000 animals were rescued and cared for in Louisiana and Mississippi alone.
Betsy McFarland, Director of Communications in the Companion Animals Section of the Humane Society of the United States, also serves as the national staff member tasked with volunteer-related matters. Without warning, Betsy’s office because deluged with offers for help from a special type of “spontaneous disaster volunteer”: people who would drop everything to help animals in need. It took weeks of unremitting activity and effort to cope, all with extraordinary volunteers.
Listen to Betsy’s story in her own words in this audio interview.