‘Not over yet’ for lost Katrina pets | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Not over yet’ for lost Katrina pets

Andrew Pridgen
North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. North Shore-based Pet Network is caring for pets like these that were born following Hurricane Katrina.

INCLINE VILLAGE – Flood advisories, overcrowding and hoards of people trying to get in and out of the area …. While residents and visitors descended upon the Lake Tahoe Basin in some of the most treacherous and wet holiday conditions since 1997, others were still thinking about other far-off and far-worse-off places.

“I guess if there’s one message I could give it’s that ‘it’s not over yet there,’ ” said Incline resident Pamela Hormiotis, referring to the Gulf Coast. “Not better by any means.”

Hormiotis, an Incline resident of 24 years, who describes herself as one of the founders of Pet Network, has traveled to the Hurricane Katrina-affected region of the deep South twice to aid in animal rescue efforts.

In the process, she said, “her eyes were opened.”

“So much work still needs to be done,” she said. “You don’t have to travel there to make a difference either. Animals are dying. The SPCA is only giving owners a five-day window to claim their pets.

“After that, the animals are euthanized. People need to know about this.” Hormiotis said. “For what these animals go through in order to survive, they deserve a chance.”

During her first trip to the Gulf Coast region in early October, Hormiotis connected with the Kanab, Utah-based animal rescue group, Best Friends Animal Society, to help animals in the greater New Orleans area.

“New Orleans is (laid out) a bit like Reno,” Hormiotis said. “The immediate downtown is relatively compact, but the area surrounding is huge.

“The needs of the animals there is tremendous to say the least.”

In the immediate wake of the storm, animal rescue work was limited to “just gathering animals, leaving them food and attempting to do what we could,” Hormiotis said.

She said her return trip in early December was much different.

In the two months that had passed, while water levels went down, danger facing the animals “skyrocketed,” she noted.

“People left their homes but locked their pets in bathrooms, bedrooms – with maybe a week’s worth of food,” Hormiotis explained. “Survival instincts kick in and the animals turn feral. If they survived, they were walking skeletons.

“The water damage ruined homes, black mold was on every wall, and that gets into the animals’ lungs – so if they live through it, they can still have long-term damage. It’s just devastation.”

Hormiotis said her efforts during the December trip were not affiliated with any rescue organizations, but resulted in placement of several animals, including a litter of border collie-mix puppies – three that as of last week were still available for adoption – and one cat. The animals were waiting for homes at Pet Network.

“We adopted (out) one of the puppies last week,” said Pet Network adoption manager Susan Paul. “It went to a very good, very caring family who has a home here and in Calistoga, Calif.”

Pet Network executive director Steve Ricker lauded Hormiotis’ efforts after she brought the latest group of rescue animals to the Incline-based nonprofit.

“We really recognize that level of commitment,” Ricker said. “Plus, these animals are really, really special.”

Hormiotis said she plans to return to the Gulf Coast early this year, noting that each trip shows her how much more there is to do.

“There’s a Chihuahua mix that was rescued from a floating board that I’m trying to bring back,” Hormiotis said. “So many stories, so many more animals need help. Whether it’s just a letter to the (Louisiana) SPCA or just an effort to (increase) awareness, there is so much people can do.”

For more info

Those interested in finding out more can call Pamela Hormiotis at (775) 832-2066 or visit Pet Network at http://www.petnetwork.org.

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