Food & Water Program

A tabby whose owners have never come, but he waits because food always comes from ARNO. Photo by Lise McComiskey ©2007.

If you live near New Orleans or can travel to New Orleans to help, please consider volunteering for Animal Rescue New Orleans.

The ARNO Food Water Program is a network of volunteers working to sustain the animals of Katrina that still await rescue and/or remain on the ground. There are currently approximately 2,000 feeding in the devastated areas of the parishes of Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines.

ARNO supplies feeders with food, when available, maps and usually a feeder or local to accompany those from out of town. Aluminum food and water pans must be used and are provided when funds are available to purchase. Volunteers drive to stations, replenish food and water and collect field data to assist in trapping, reunion and Trap-Neuter-Return efforts. If you are interested in volunteering for ARNO, please contact arnovolunteer@yahoo.com.

There is always a need for field feeders to keep the animals fed and to give local feeders/caretakers assistance and/or a needed break.

If you are unable to volunteer please consider making a donation to ARNO. Even a small amount of money or supplies helps us fulfill our commitments to the animals. Thank you.

Two years and new directions…

When Animal Rescue New Orleans first started its feeding program shortly after the levee breaches, we saved thousands of animals from starvation.  As neighborhoods have recovered, the amount of feeding stations has fallen by more than half overall, and in some areas down to ten percent of original stations.  ARNO must concentrate on less populated areas of the city such as the East, parts of Gentilly, the lower ninth ward, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes.
 
When the program began, in October 2005, and when individual residents started returning to their homes and neighborhoods, most of the surviving animals were thin, weak and in very poor health. ARNO feeding stations grew to over 4,000 in number. The animals on the street were a combination of former strays, former pets, mixed with outside cats from other areas moved by floodwaters or in search of food, as well as dogs, some packed for better survival. In the past 23 months, thousands of these animals were removed, reunited (and still we are reuniting) with previous owners, and feral (wild) cats spayed and neutered and released to their previous location. (ARNO does not release sterilized animals that are sick or not healthy.)
 
Now most of the sick animals have been removed and the ones that are left are relatively healthy.  (We still consider too young, pregnant and injured animals a priority for trapping in any area.) In Lakeview, an area where residents are returning at a faster pace than most, the need for feeding stations has dropped tremendously.  In the areas where there is a heavy return of residents stations have been eliminated, consolidated or moved to accommodate returning residents. In areas that are still deserted, or have sparse resident return, the feeding program is critical to the animals’ survival, as well as their health and well being while they wait to be humanely trapped. Your donation helps us to trap sooner-than-later, as expenses for their spay/neuter surgery, inoculations, and medical treatment for parasites, eye infections, upper respiratory infections, etc., are provided before the animals are released, reunited with owners, or adopted out to a new permanent home.
 
The food/water program is not meant to last forever and gradually will be eliminated as residents step up to take charge of existing sterilized feral colonies.
 
Feral cats are beneficial to neighborhoods and are the natural predator of rodents. Any increase of rodents in areas are mainly twofold:  1) Katrina destroyed an estimated 50-90% of predator feral feline populations in areas that were flooded and water remained for up to three weeks; and 2) the rodent population did not suffer the same from flooding; rats can swim for very long distances and get to safety that supports their light weight. 

There are no statistics supporting the exact number of dogs and cats who lost their lives in Katrina floodwaters, one can only guess. But the absences of previous feral cat populations from their pre-Katrina caretakers provide us with percentages of those who have disappeared. Also in the absence of garbage to forage, wild animals (including rats, opossums, raccoons and even coyotes) moved in to even sparsely populated areas in the search for possible food.  This is a natural occurrence after any disaster, be it flood, fire or drought.

ARNO examines food/water stations and the animal populations served on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis. We answer any concern or complaint by moving or eliminating an existing station. ARNO is dedicated to the rebuilding of our region, as well as protection of our four-legged residents.

ARNO is always looking for “barn cat” placement, when ferals must be removed from an area. Removal of ferals is paramount when structures have been demolished in deserted areas, preventing the cats from reaching any safe shelter, exposing them to predators and weather that would weaken their health and/or cause their death. Note that removing ferals and relocating them is a labor-intensive process on the receiving end. The animals must be fed daily and safely contained for two to three weeks before their release in that area. Establishment of barn cats or feral colonies in rural areas benefit farms and ranches with rodent control, but the cats must still be regularly fed to keep them healthy. Healthy animals engage in rodent control, whereas starving or unhealthy animals do not.
In areas that have safe harbor structures, houses to go under, etc., removal of all feral populations is strongly not recommended. Statistics show that within six months another population from another area will move in to take their place. (Not to mention give the rodents a six-month hiatus without cats to prey on them.) Having a feral population that is sterilized, not only keeps other ferals out, but reduces spraying and fighting cats to almost zero.

If you are interested in more facts about the many benefits of feral cats and the relocation process of feral cats please visit Alley Cat Allies.

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