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Three healthy (if somewhat climate-challenged) Katrina evacuees seek homes

— Though they may have struggled through floodwaters and gone days without food, three victims of Hurricane Katrina were wagging their tails this week at the Southern Oregon Humane Society in Medford.

Louey, Herby and Cane, three American pit bull terrier mixes between — and 2 years old, were found in abandoned buildings in the French Quarter.

They were brought to Medford Sept. 30 by animal rescuer Debbie Smith of Grants Pass, who fetched them from a temporary shelter set up at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, La., where they were given their current names.

All three have been tested, neutered, vaccinated and microchipped and are ready for adoption, said Babette Carvalho, operations manager for SOHS.

Those who adopt the dogs should be aware that their rightful owners have until the end of the year to reclaim them, she said.

— More Katrina dogs may be headed to Medford, said Bill Templeman, SOHS executive director. He expects to receive at least some of the dogs from a planeload of 93 dogs and cats from Lamar-Dixon brought to the Oregon Humane Society in Portland Wednesday.

Jackson County Animal Care and Control also is on the list to receive dogs from Portland, and it has offered to take dogs already at SOHS to free up its kennels for rescued dogs.

Carvalho said the three pit bulls at SOHS were shivering when they arrived, so she keeps sweaters on them when temperatures are cool.

They came from a very warm climate, she said.

Templeman said the pit bull breed generally does not do well confined for long periods in a kennel, but these dogs seem to be faring well.

But SOHS may feel the pinch from rescuing disaster pups, Templeman said.

It's costing us a lot of money, said Templeman, adding that much staff time is being spent on examining and evaluating the rescued dogs.

In addition to the &

36;10 a day it normally takes to house a dog, the Katrina dogs have cost &

36;100 each for testing and examination. All have tested negative for heartworm. But if the society receives a dog that does needs treatment, that can run &

36;200 to &

36;800, depending on the severity of the disease.

We do need assistance, financial, for them, Templeman said.

Barbara Baugnon, spokesperson for the Oregon Humane Society, said heartworm is a common problem among the rescued animals. It's prevalent in the South, she said, adding the Oregon society has begun treatment for many of the animals.

Baugnon said already three people have called from Louisiana to reclaim their dogs, which they identified from photos posted on the Web. Those animals will be flown back to the South.

She said five dogs have been sent to the Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend, and OHS will be sending out more animals to shelters around the state.

Both SOHS and Jackson County Animal Care and Control have indicated to the OHS they do not have room for Katrina cats.

All the shelters are full of cats, said Templeman. It's just the time of the year.

Templeman said when Katrina hit, several national organizations assembled to handle the displaced animal population, and Petfinder.com was tasked with reuniting pets with their owners. He said more than 10,000 dogs and cats have been rescued. Abandoned farm animals also are being placed, he said.

Petfinder.com has put photos of dogs and cats on its Web site.

Petfinder.com has urged any organization taking dogs and cats from the temporary shelter set up at Lamar-Dixon to place the animals on a foster to adopt basis until Dec. 31 to allow people sufficient time to find their pets.

For more information, contact the Southern Oregon Humane Society at 779-3215 or Jackson County Animal Care and Control, 774-6654.

Reuniting Katrina evacuee and their pets

Petfinder.com has taken the lead on reuniting Gulf Coast victims with their pets and finding new homes for unclaimed dogs and cats found in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Petfinder.com, a virtual shelter begun in 1995, has created an animal emergency response network to help companion animals and their caretakers during disasters. The collaborative database links to information from public and emergency response organizations. The comprehensive database also allows:

Displaced hurricane victims to post the locations of their pets so that rescuers can go in and save them.

Rescuers to post the descriptions and photos of pets they find, making them available for distraught caretakers to find them.

Volunteers to post their offers of foster care so displaced hurricane victims can find temporary care for their pets.

SHELTER from the STORM"mlanders@mailtribune.com.

A sweater-clad pit bull terrier mix named Louey makes himself comfortable at the Southern Oregon Humane Society. Three dogs have arrived from Louisiana so far at the shelter, and are faring well. More animal evacuees are expected. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell