Poodle Inspires Rescue Effort for Pets Affected by Katrina

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An outpouring of humanity for those affected by Hurricane Katrina has come from around the world. But an unlikely champion Â? a non-human one Â? has inspired a rescue mission that will see hundreds of animals relocated from the Gulf Coast disaster area into homes of new, loving pet owners.

An outpouring of humanity for those affected by Hurricane Katrina has come from around the world. But an unlikely champion – a non-human one – has inspired a rescue mission that will see hundreds of animals relocated from the Gulf Coast disaster area into homes of new, loving pet owners.

Buddy, a male poodle, has become the focal point for donations to No More Homeless Pets in Utah in Salt Lake City. Buddy’s owner, Arthur Benjamin, pledged to adopt a dog left homeless in Katrina’s wake to encourage donors to fund a rescue mission led by No More Homeless Pets in Utah.

Benjamin, who is a board member of the no-kill pet adoption coalition, has raised more than $15,000 worth of food and monetary offerings to cover the operation that launched this week. His business colleagues gave generously in memory of his wife Gail, who passed away this year. Buddy was Gail’s therapy dog during her three-year bout with breast cancer.

“If Gail were here, this is something that she would do,” Benjamin said.

On Sept. 8, five vans loaded with volunteers and supplies departed Utah for San Antonio, Texas, where countless animals displaced by Katrina have been sent. The supplies were donated by PETCO and other organizations, such as Summit County Friends of Animals. The vans will return to Salt Lake City early this week bearing as many dogs and cats as they can accommodate.

No More Homeless Pets in Utah experienced an onslaught of support for the Katrina rescue mission from volunteers, friends and supporters. Together with adoptions coming in through their web site, more than $20,000 has been raised for pets stranded in Katrina’s aftermath.

The animals saved in the effort will be featured in a “super adoption” – an annual event sponsored by PETsMART where 500-600 animals are adopted by new owners.

“Only the animals known not to be owned are being put up for adoption,” Benjamin said. “The San Antonio shelters are overwhelmed. They can’t find homes for them fast enough because as fast as the animals are adopted, there are more arriving.”

A dog lover who has adopted five animals with diseases or other illnesses, Benjamin adopted Buddy from a shelter when he was six months old. He characterized Buddy as the “alpha male” who runs the household, even though he shares it with a 100-pound Labrador Retriever. Since Gail’s passing, Buddy has not been short on energy – just affection.

Benjamin’s position as President and CEO of ATI Enterprises, Inc., provided him with extensive contacts in the business and education worlds who were willing to donate. He said he decided to get involved in Katrina relief efforts after seeing news footage of an abandoned pet that was not allowed onto a school bus evacuating New Orleans residents.

“There was a shot of this dog who looked a lot like Buddy jumping at the school bus as it drove away,” Benjamin said. “They left it in the street. I saw that and said, ‘Let’s do something about this.’”

For more information about the pet rescue mission or Buddy, contact Gregory Castle, President, No More Homeless Pets in Utah, 801-557-4052. No More Homeless Pets will be accepting donations to rescue animals abandoned in the disaster through its web site, utahpets.org.

Contact: Gregory Castle, President, No More Homeless Pets in Utah

Phone: 801-557-4052

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Gregory Castle
No More Homeless Pets in Utah
801-557-4052
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