When people ask me what I did this weekend, I can share a pretty unique story. I went to Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, to help distribute supplies for pets affected by Hurricane Isaac.
Two other teammates and I were recently trained to be deployed with PetSmart Charities Emergency Relief Waggin’.
Our job: Unload a 53-foot semi-trailer stocked with pet supplies, so the Humane Society of the United States’ teams on the ground could distribute them to families in need.
This area was hit particularly hard during Hurricane Isaac, so Jefferson Parish residents and pets alike were very appreciative of the supplies.
Pets and families in need
The irony of this particular storm was that it hit almost 7 years to the day that Hurricane Katrina impacted the very same area. I, like millions of others, watched the events of Katrina unfold from my living room. My three dogs slept soundly next to me.
Our pets are part of the family. Others might say that pets are their only family members. As I watched the Katrina story unfold, I could not even begin to imagine having to make the choice that many residents were facing: leave my dogs behind or risk my own life. At that time, the only thing I could do to help was to donate money to help fund the relief efforts.
I wanted to do so much more.
Empowered to act
Seven years later, my life is very different. I now work for PetSmart Charities and last March, was trained to volunteer for a PetSmart Charities’ Emergency Relief Waggin’ deployment. Last week, when the call came for volunteers to assist with Hurricane Isaac, I jumped at the chance.
During our short stay, I met many wonderful people. The HSUS folks were so helpful, and I also had an opportunity to learn more about my PetSmart teammates. There’s really no better way to bond than emptying a semi-trailer together in 98% humidity.
We all agreed that we would do it again in an instant.
I was proud to be part of this team and had an amazing experience. People who didn’t even know us thanked us for helping. Many were surprised by what we were there to do. It was a privilege to represent PetSmart Charities in such a unique way.
And the kicker for me was: we helped people stay with their pets. After all, material things can be replaced. A family member cannot.
Stay tuned to the PetSmart Charities blog for tips on how to create an emergency preparedness plan for your pets.