As the Old Muddy continues its rise to historic levels, attracting media attention from around the country, some folks are looking out for the welfare of animals. The Red Star team, located at 1716 Shelby Oaks Drive and a partnership of the American Humane Association and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), has a twofold purpose: taking in creatures whose owners have been forced to relocate, and plunging into high waters to rescue pets in peril. It currently houses some 200 animals, including dogs, cats, domestic ducks, guinea pigs, hamsters, and parakeets.
Perhaps the most fortunate of those rescued was a pregnant mother cat. Her owners called the county office of emergency preparedness on Saturday, May 7th, to report that they were able to take their other animals when they relocated – but had to leave two cats behind. Joel Lopez, field investigations and response manager for the ASPCA, got the call about the cats. "We went out in boats," he says, "and found the trailer park in Millington where the cats were located. Water was at least halfway up the sides of the houses and in some cases you couldn't see the numbers. But we stayed till we found the place." Through a window, the rescuers could see the two cats. One was on top of a shelf-type headboard over a bed. The other was on top of the washing machine. Another two inches of water, says Lopez, and she'd have to go higher — or go under. "We try very hard not to break windows in our rescue," continues Lopez, "so we got the windows open, reached in, and grabbed the cats. They did not resist," he adds. "They were ready to go." Both cats were pregnant — one, as Lopez describes it, "about ready to pop."
A few hours later, safe on dry ground, in a roomy cage covered with a blanket, the ready-to-pop feline simply known as Mama Cat delivered four kittens — just in time for Mother's Day. "Everyone is doing fine," says Lopez.
Although he doesn't know at this point where the owners are, Lopez emphasizes that the team works hard to reunite animals with their families. "These owners were very concerned about their pets, very engaged," he says. "I think we'll be able to track them."
As calls and animals continue to pour in — including a number of dogs from the treacherous waters of Northaven in Frayser, "we'll be here," says Lopez. "We'll stay as long as we're needed in the community, until owners can take their animals home."