Pets & Animals In Distress Mississippi Mission

Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort Sept 3rd to Sept 16th

Pets & Animals in Distress, President Brenda Beck, loading Hurricane Katrina animal
Relief supplies to be delivered to Katrina disaster areas on the Gulf coast

Pets & Animals in Distress President, Brenda Beck and volunteers worked to organize and coordinate the Hurricane Katrina relief food drive to get dog and cat food, medical and pet supplies including a 24’ Ryder truck donated for the 15-hour drive to bring in relief assistance to the Gulf coast disaster areas. Brenda set up a command post base in south Florida with several volunteers that included Karen Albert, Kyndra Crews, and Cindy Miller to help answer and make phone calls, e-mails, take messages along with provide search and rescue logistics and vital information needed to our Director Relief Coordinator and Volunteers when en-route and upon being on the ground in the disaster area

Pets & Animals in Distress started our Hurricane Katrina disaster relief drive on Sept 3rd collecting animal relief supplies throughout Florida for our first State relief effort to bring in pet food, medical and pet supplies to the disaster areas on the Gulf coast states. Katrina Relief supplies were picked up in Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Port Saint Lucie, Okeechobee, Fort Pierce, Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Florida. Director Chris Sisto drove to Pet Supplies Plus stores located in Delray Beach and in Lake Worth, Fl where PSP owner Mike Camardello had set aside several hundred pounds of donated dog and cat food, collars, leashes and pet supplies to bring for the relief efforts and then to meet up with Brenda Beck to get more relief supplies. Supplies were also being collected from Brenda’s sister Karen Albert and family, friends and businesses from Okeechobee, Fl. Brenda drove to Okeechobee, Florida to pick up all the donated food and pet supplies that were then brought to be loaded on the 24’ Ryder truck that was donated by Ryder of Fort Pierce for the long 15-hour journey ride to Perlington, MS.

Once the truck was loaded Pets & Animals in Distress Director Chris Sisto met with Disaster relief coordinator Don Kjos to go over their driving routes and their relief mission plan. They finished loading the Ryder truck, said their goodbyes to family and then proceeded to get on I-95 to start heading north to Jacksonville, FL where they had to make another stop to pick up several hundred pounds of donated Nutro Dog food. When they arrived in Jacksonville around 9 pm and picked up the dog food and then headed to our next pick up stop in Tallahassee where we were to meet Big Dog Rescue and volunteers around 1 am in the morning at a Petsmart parking lot to help offload 5 pallets of Meow Mix cat food from a FedEx truck onto the Ryder truck. When they were done it was around 1:30 and very tired we stayed in Tallahassee overnight and met again and picked more dog food early the morning from Big Dog Rescue from their warehouse and then embarked on our travels to get to Pearlington, MS and bring in the food and supplies needed to help the animals.

They drove through Pensacola, Mobile and Biloxi and started to see the beginnings of Hurricane Katrina’s damage with the huge towering billboard metal signs that were along I-10 that had been completely shredded, twisted and bent out of shape. We were almost involved in a massive chain accident when about 10 cars in front of us a Semi-Tractor trailer and a Ford 150 collided on a bridge that had wedged the pick-up truck between the front of the semi nose and bridge, blocking traffic for an hour until it was removed. Luckily the driver of the pick-up truck was not killed. We then started our journey and got off on exit 2 going into Pearlington. When we arrived in Pearlington, I don’t think either of us was prepared for what we were about to see.

The picture we see via our National Media does not explain no justify the horror and devastation Hurricane Katrina placed on this small town of 1700 only 45 miles east of New Orleans. The eye of Hurricane Katrina passed directly over Pearlington, bringing a 25-foot storm surge and almost wiping out everything in it path. The entire town was flattened out. Upon arrival in Pearlington Chris and Don met with Mr. Sam Bailey who is the former Captain of the Fire dept in Pearlington. Sam, his wife and his animals had survived hurricane Katrina’s 150 mph winds and the 25-foot tidal surge that completely devastated his home and town. We arrived to help to bring relief supplies to help the animals and people of Pearlington and Waveland, Mississippi.

Director Chris Sisto meeting with Sam Bailey after arriving in Pearlington to deliver pet food
And relief supplies to residents and to help in coordinating in search and rescue of animals

Pets & Animals in Distress organized, coordinated and put together their first State hurricane relief effort to help bring in food & supplies, along with sending the word out to get many other rescue organizations and volunteers involved to come in and help in the search and rescue of the animals in Pearlington that were wandering the streets without food or water. This was a combined team animal relief effort by many we had never met that answered the call of help that included several animal rescue groups, volunteers, veterinarians and the pet food corporations that came to help this small unknown town named Pearlington, Ms.

This was truly amazing to see such a positive national response and very big undertaking that Pets & Animals in Distress Hurricane relief coordinator Don was able to send out a national 911 Distress call by e-mail to animal shelters, rescue groups and volunteers all over America to bring national attention and spotlight to the plight of this town to help save these animals from dying and get the help and supplies they desperately needed immediately, as time was of the essence.

We have received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails from animal lovers everywhere, said Brenda Beck, from as far away as Alaska, New York, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Colorado, California and even Canada wanting to know how they can come and help the animals, it was truly amazing to see how big this has spread. We are glad to know that this national plea campaign has put the town of Pearlington, Mississippi on the map that has helped to bring in countless volunteers and supplies to save hundreds of many of these animals. We applaud the heroic efforts from all the Rescue Groups, Veterinarians, Police Officers, National Guardsmen, Coast Guard and especially to all the volunteers that gave up their time, businesses and families to come and help in the search and rescue recovery and care of all the animals that were wandering the streets and left behind in homes, and on farms when residents evacuated in the aftermath destruction from Hurricane Katrina, many were saved that would have starved and died.

The overwhelming response from people and rescue groups from everywhere was unbelievable said Kendra Williams who is the owner of Lansas Kennels in Mandeville, Louisiana and who is also with the Pochatrain Humane Society along with Sam Bailey who both are acting as a relief coordinator for Pearlington to help the animals. I received over 500 calls the first week alone say’s Williams with offers of all kinds to help. I could not keep up with all the phone calls coming in every hour. Kendra who is also is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer while trying to take care of the animals that are being brought in on a daily basis has opened her kennel to become a make-shift rescue shelter for many of the Hurricane animals.

U.S Coast Guard and Pets & Animals in Distress
Help in the Search and Rescue for dog on Pearl River Home

Pets & Animals in Distress Director Chris Sisto (left pic) and Relief Coordinator Donald Kjos (center pic) were able to go on a search and rescue mission with Chief Marshall of the U.S. Coast Guard PSU 309 unit 2 boat team of 10 Coastguardsmen to search for a dog that was reported left behind in a home located on the Pearl River in Pearlington, Mississippi Both Don & Chris were dropped off on the banks of the Pearl River that was layered with 2-3 feet of mud to a large mansion home that was totally destroyed by the Hurricane and tidal surge. They walked and searched through the 5-acre property along with going inside the destroyed home and barn to try to find the dog, which they never found. Water and food were left behind on the property in the event the dog was still hiding and the Coast Guard would contact in the event the dog was sighted again.


Don was approached by a young resident of Pearlington who was riding a 4 wheeler ATV to report a sighting of a small Pomeranian dog that was left behind in a home on Hancock street that was destroyed that had been living in an attic and seen running on the roof for several days. The dog was able to get on the roof from a large hole that was made from a fallen tree that crashed through the roof. Don and 2 volunteers from Texas went to the location to look for the dog. Don was able to climb a tree that had fallen against the home to gain access to the roof to look for the dog and saw that there were 2 huge holes left in the roof where trees had fallen and allowed the dog to go out to the roof. The dog was spotted hiding in the attic very scared and was rescued and then was brought back to the relief area where it was provided with immediate medical care, food and water and photographed and ID by the camp vet to be re-united back to its owners.

The National Guard Search and Rescue team had informed Pets & Animals in Distress about 8 pm in the evening just before curfew of 2 large dogs and a puppy was spotted and reported to have been left behind at a home that was washed away off its foundation. We were given a street and location but would not be able to go in until the morning to the strict curfew that was in effect. We spent the night again with the National Guard on the football field and woke up around 6 am after sleeping in a truck and proceeded to the sighting location that was given to us by the NG. Don & Chris were able to locate and find the home where the animals were left behind inside a gated fence that remarkably was still standing. The animals looked very thin and dehydrated, which we immediately gave them food and water and then were safely rescued and extracted all 3 dogs to be transported back to the camp to be examined by the on-ground vet and then photographed and ID. When we arrived we were bum-rushed by a 3oo lb pig that chased us back in our van, we opened a 40lb bag of dog food for him to eat which he was very hungry and placed some water for him, and reported the pigs location to the rescue groups that were helping to get the horses, pigs and goats.

Chris and Don worked side by side with several National Guard members who volunteered their time to help build several dog kennels in Pearlington at the animal search and rescue site. Ten 9’ x 12’ Kennels were constructed that had tarps secured and placed over the tops for shading of the animals. All Kennels could now house between 60 to 80 animals that would no longer have to be left in these confined cages overnight and could move around more freely until they were picked up to be transported to the Kennels shelter in Louisiana.

Director Chris Sisto and several volunteers went on a search & rescue mission at Nasa’s Stennis Space Center outside of Pearlington by I-10 for 2 dogs that were reported seen on the government property running wild. They searched for several hours but could not find the dogs and would have other Search and Rescue groups come back the following day to do another search.

Brenda, Chris and Don coordinated with Equine Rescue (Victoria and Peggy) out of Pensacola and Sarasota that contacted Pets & Animals in Distress that offered to bring in horse trailers, volunteers and hay and water on where to go to help look for horses, goats, pigs and any livestock.

Pets & Animals worked with several law enforcement agencies from Florida, that included FL State Troopers, Officers Wells from Tampa & Officer Washington from Jacksonville, FL who were driving through Pearlington and approached our relief coordinator Don to ask if they could get some dog and cat food to keep in their police vehicles to help feed animals that were running everywhere when they were on patrol. Both Officers Wells & Washington also helped in the search and recovery of several pets that were phoned into Brenda Beck who was manning the phones and e-mails and coordinating relief efforts from south Florida where she was able then was able to contact several relief coordinators that are on ground to pass on the information of these animals locations to go and search and rescue these animals or drop of food and water. Having Officer Wells helping to be our second set of eyes while also being able to take the time to help provide food to animals was truly a blessing to have this backup support from our own State, said Beck.

Officer Wells is in direct contact with Brenda that reported that 3 dogs were left at a store off of hwy 90 and also a cat with a broken leg was that was seen by a neighbor hiding under a mobile home trailer. Both reports and locations were passed on to our relief coordinators Don & Chris and to Saint Lucie Humane Society volunteers Bunny, Crystal and Sandy who went to the address location that was provided by Officer Wells to Brenda and found that the dogs were already picked up by another search and rescue team. We then located to find the mobile home trailer where the injured cat was reported as seen that was hiding. When we arrived we coordinated an extensive search of both inside and underneath the trailer several times to try find the cat, which after one hour of searching was never found. We left plenty of food and water behind and our contact information that we gave to neighbor and would come out again the next day to do another search. We have good news to report that we have received a phone call that the injured cat with the broken leg was found alive and caught by volunteers Bunny, Crystal and Sandy and was brought to the Vet Medical camp in Waveland to help fix the injured cats broken leg, which we are glad to report is doing well and will be kept there for observation until the owner of the trailer can claim him and be reunited.

Chris and Don drove through the streets of Pearlington trying to catch several dogs that were wandering the streets that were scared, hungry and running wild. Many of these spooked dogs were very hard to catch without live traps. Food and water were left behind for them until live traps could be brought in to catch them.

We also met with the Christian Life Church leader Mr. Boyd in Waveland 15 miles east of Pearlington who were set up giving away food and clothing to the people in a K-mart parking lot and were very glad to see that we had brought in loads of dog and cat food as many residents asked if there was any food for the animals and at that time their was not. Mr. Boyd blessed and thanked us for bringing the food for the animals. We then set up a relief staging area in the Big K shopping plaza to unload our truck of 15,000 lbs of donated dog and cat food, collars, leashes, litter, cages, carriers, shampoos, advantage, revolution and many other pet supplies to give to many of the Waveland resident pet owners that were very thank full we were there as they had little or no food left to help feed their animals, we were thanked for bringing in the food at this critical time.

While at Camp we had reports of hundreds of dogs roaming the devastated beach area of Waveland, MS. Don and I decided to take the Ryder truck and the van with kennels to the area. As we approached the beach area there was nothing but foundations and debris hanging from trees that survived the storm. We drove up and down the beach and noticed no dogs at all. We found a plot of land where a luxurious house once stood and decided to make a trough of food for the poor dogs running rampant. We opened approximately (20) 50lb bags of food and cut the tops off 10 one-gallon jugs of water so the homeless pets wouldn’t starve or dehydrate. We had taken another six bags of dog food and left them in the area for people to replenish the supply of food.

All relief groups, rescue groups, vets and volunteers stayed at the Pearlington school and on the football field in the evening under the jurisdiction of the National Guard and would meet in the morning to then go back to the relief staging area for the animals to help walk the dogs, clean kennels and feed the animals, and then deploy search and rescue teams to go out and look for animals

Pets & Animals in Distress coordinated with several outside rescue groups including Cris and Sarah from Mixed up Mutts who took over the overwhelming number of calls that were coming in to help coordinate logistics and relief efforts from Northern Indiana. Cris would stay in daily contact to give status report updates to Don and Chris who were traveling en-route and when they arrived on the ground. After we had left, Cris organized to leave with several volunteers, that arrived on Sept 16 and is on the ground in Mandeville talking and coordinating with Sam and Kendra overseeing operations for search and rescue and supplies that are needed in other disaster areas to help the animals. Animal Relief Supplies are also being directed to deliver to a secure warehouse located in Mobile, Alabama.

Pets & Animals in Distress has been in contact with several vets from Delaware Veterinary that have just arrived on the ground to coordinate and volunteer their vet services to help with the intake of rescued animals in selected disaster areas that they will be needed most in.

We were very glad to meet and speak with Deputy Mark Stroud of the Polk County Sheriffs Department from Florida who Chris and Don helped to provide special pet food to be given to the K-9 police units as well as search and rescue dogs. Sheriff Deputy Mark Stroud of the Polk Sheriffs department also volunteered to help in building several 9’ x 12’ dog kennels working alongside Pets & Animals in Distress and the National Guard.

We will be coordinating to send several volunteers next month to get pick up animals that have been released from their 30-day quarantine hold under the States guidelines, for which we have been put on the waiting list. Please help support all animal organization relief efforts in working together to help be a voice for the Katrina animals that all of us need to give our attention to continue on this mission. This is going to be an ongoing battle to help many of these animals and the many people that have lost their own pets who were trapped and left inside their homes that were not rescued and have now left us to cross over the Rainbow Bridge.

Please say a prayer for all the ones that are still waiting to be rescued and to the ones that we’re lucky enough that have been reunited back to their owners and to the ones that now have a second chance in life to be adopted to a waiting family and new home. God Bless to all the animals and everyone that is taking part to help save them. Please visit our Hurricane Katrina Photo Galleries to see pictures of our relief efforts and the animals.


Brenda Beck, President

Pets & Animals in Distress Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts Photo Gallery 1
Pets & Animals in Distress Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts Photo Gallery 2

Pets & Animals In Distress Thank You’s