Health Concerns for Katrina Pets

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The Brazos Animal Shelter is on standby to receive more dogs and cats left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. Just like the health concerns human evacuees have, some of the animals may have medical problems too.

Nearly four dozen cats and dogs separated from their owners after hurricane Katrina have found temporary homes in the Brazos Valley.

Just as officials are monitoring human evacuees for outbreaks of serious and infectious disease, they're also keeping tabs on the animals leaving the state. Some of which may have been exposed to the black, contaminated flood waters in the Bayou.

"Our biggest concern would be gastrointestinal disease, vomiting, diarrhea from the different bacteria and contaminates that were in the flood waters," said Veterinarian, Dr Craig Bond.

Dr. Bond is also concerned about the animals developing skin diseases and unknown pre-existing medical conditions. He says many of the dogs and cats that will eventually be up for adoption should have a complete and thorough medical evaluation.

Kelly Durham with the Brazos Animal Shelter says while the animals the shelter has already received from the Gulf Coast are vaccinated and given their shots before they leave Louisiana, they could still get sick during the long trip to Texas.

"What they're most likely to come down with is kennel cough, which is a canine version of a cold. It takes a couple of weeks for them to get over it," said Durham.

Vets and the animal shelter workers also suggest making sure the pets you already own are up to date on their vaccinations before you introduce a new animal into your home. Dr. Bond suggests practicing a little patience during the adjustment process.

"These animals have been through some very traumatic experiences. They're going to be a little nervous. They've been transported, they've been kept at different shelters," said Dr. Bond.

The animal shelter will be trying to reunite evacuated pets with their owners until Oct. 16. But if the owners aren't found they will be put up for adoption.