Katrina strays find a shelter in Agua Dulce

first_imgAGUA DULCE – When you’ve already got 150 dogs, what’s a few dozen more? That was the feeling of Tia Torres-Cardella, who runs Villalobos Pit Bull Rescue in Agua Dulce when she got a call Sunday from Bobby Dorafshar, the owner of New Leash on Life pet rescue in Placerita Canyon. Dorafshar was on his second mission of mercy into the flood-ravaged Gulf Coast to rescue animals stranded by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “He started the conversation with ‘Honey, before you say no,’ so how could I not help?” Torres-Cardella said. “First there were 80 pit bulls, then other groups took some and it went down to 35. So we were there at LAX Monday night, picking up all these dogs.” Her mountainside compound is lined with plastic cages in which the dogs traveled. Many are housed in a steel construction trailer, others against the shaded patio or in a utility van parked near the back door of Torres-Cardella’s house. Several resident dogs watched calmly as a handful of volunteers fetched bowls of water and dog food for the refugees. “Pits are the most resilient of breeds, they bounce right back. Give them a day and they’re ready to party,” she said. “The funny thing was when we got to the plane, we heard thump, thump, thump, all those tails wagging.” Most of the dogs are in good health, but a few have problems; a couple have curable ringworm, one is pregnant and another has skin infections from the toxic stew of the flood waters. The dogs came from an emergency animal evacuation center set up at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, La., that stopped accepting animals last Friday and will close by Saturday. At one time, the center sheltered more than 5,000 animals. “They told me that whatever dogs don’t get taken to rescue will be turned over to the National Guard and who knows what will happen to them then,” Torres-Cardella said. The animals will be acclimated to California, examined by vets and cared for until their pictures can be posted online for a possible reunion with their owners. Torres Cardella said that pit bulls’ reputations might pose a roadblock in their adoption, but that the breed is actually very loving toward people – it’s other dogs that bring out their aggression. “I expect to hold on to them for awhile,” she said. “I still have a couple of rescues from Hurricane Charlie last year. I love the breed’s fiestiness and personalities. They are so forgiving of people.” If original owners cannot be located, potential new owners will be grilled about the environment they intend to provide the animal and how much they know about the pit bull breed. “These dogs have been through two hurricanes, a flood and a cross-country plane trip. That’s a stressful environment for them,” she said. “I don’t want bleeding hearts. They have to be willing to learn about the breed. Don’t just feel sorry for the dog.” The other 150 residents of her rescue were quiet in their cages behind the house, probably because of the human-dog interactions that continued through the late morning. “Do you want to go back to Louisiana?” Torres-Cardella barked at a howling dog near the trailer, reaching out to pet the dog after admonishing him. “We make them toe the line.” Owners looking for their pets or those looking to adopt a pit bull rescued from the hurricane area should log on to www.petfinder.com. Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more