When the first team from the Arizona Humane Society went to Louisiana several weeks ago, they caught approximately 150 animals in eight days.
"(The dogs) wanted to fight when we tried to rescue them," said Don Bradley, maintenance supervisor of the humane society. "They were real afraid and did not know what was going on. They were very hungry."
Bradley, a part-time Rim Country resident, was part of a 14-member team. He drove down in the "toterhome" -- a 30-foot motor home with a 30-foot trailer attached that housed a mobile veterinary facility.
"We were supposed to go to a town called St. Bernard Parish, but they were under 30 feet of water and there was no way to get there" Bradley said.
So they set up camp in the parking lot of the Jefferson Parish Salvation Army store where there was water for rest room but nothing else.
They commandeered "the Muskrat," a flat-bottom boat to go with the boat they had purchased, then set about their task.
In some places, they could motor the boat. In most cases, they wore chest waders, pulling the boats behind them.
"You kind of shuffle your feet. The water was really nasty. There was oil film on the top, transmission fluid and gasoline and everything from garages, and stuff floating around in that water. We had one rescue officer that actually tripped over a twig and fell in. We decontaminated him right away at a station in our mobile unit."
"We found animals on tops of cars and around porches, on the roofs of sheds and stuff," Bradley said. "Once we put them in the boat, they were like, wow, this is cool and they were easier to handle."
Homes were checked by knocking on doors and windows first. If no one responded and they heard animals, they went inside the best way they could.
Information was left on the door and another set stayed with the animal for future identification.
Cats were more skittish than dogs and harder to catch.
"This little tabby kitten, about 5-weeks-old, comes flying down the utility pole, so I squat down and coax it over," Bradley said. "I pet it, then pick it up and it starts squirming like it's going to tear me up. I put it back down because I didn't have any way to restrain it.
"I walked away a little bit and it followed me, so I stood there. It rubbed up against my legs and I picked it up. Again, it squirmed and carried on. I walked over to where the rescue workers were. One of them had a towel and she wrapped it up, and the cat was as calm as it could be then."
Bradley thought the National Guard was wonderful. Each night they would bring in dogs or addresses of stranded animals, even transporting one day's rescue to the main site when the crew was too tired to go on.
"We had an address of this one house where there were some mice to rescue. By the time we got there, there were only four mice left but we rescued them."
There were other animal rescue crews to handle large animals, but the Arizona group checked on a horse once. Unfortunately, it couldn't get to it because the water was too high.
The crew saw some dead animals, but they would have needed hazardous material suits to retrieve them, Bradley said.
The humane society is in the process of putting all the animals rescued into foster homes.
"They have all gone through extensive medical exams," Bradley said. Volunteers have also come in and groomed them.