Perspectives Online

Animal science student leads efforts to assist Hurricane Katrina's animal victims

Donna Stewart (left) and Nancy Rankin assemble the donated animal supplies for delivery to the Gulf Coast Region.
Photo by Becky Kirkland

Televised images of the devastation and suffering endured by the victims of Hurricane Katrina elicited an outpouring of donations to relief organizations and volunteer support from across the nation. That same compassionate spirit inspired Nancy Rankin, an N.C. State sophomore in animal science from Virginia Beach, Va., as she launched a campaign to assist the animal victims left behind in the evacuation and starving in the storm's aftermath.

Project Pet Chow got under way as Rankin, with the help of her family, friends and fellow students, began collecting food and supplies for the animals affected by Katrina. By the time they were done, they had collected more than 3,500 pounds of food and generous amounts of supplies such as leashes, collars, toys, treats and litter boxes.

On three September dates, the group took in donated food and goods at six collection sites, including the K-Mart on Western Boulevard, the Food Lion on Avent Ferry Road and the N.C. State Brickyard, all in Raleigh. Rankin also mentions the participation of NC Logo (T-shirts) and Kinko's (fliers).

Assisting in the collection efforts were Rankin's sponsor organization, the Companion Animal Club, and its faculty adviser Kim Ange. "I had a core group of students that helped me run the project, including Mandy Spisak, Deanna Stewart, Cassie Britt and Alee Vestal," said Rankin. "The largest single donation of food came from the Rodeo Club, and students from other organizations helped at the donation sites, as well."

By Sept. 17, Rankin personally delivered the goods to a shelter set up by the Humane Society of the U.S. in Hattiesburg, Miss. Her mother had brought her own truck and a rented trailer to Raleigh from Virginia Beach and accompanied her daughter on the mission.

"Our goal was to help the animals affected as well as provide food and supplies to human victims who still had their animals," Rankin said. "We heard many thanks while we were down there. We know how appreciative they are of the aid we provided."

Rankin has continued to keep up with recovery efforts and reported that by late September the Humane Society had already rescued more than 600 animals. "All animals were cleaned, checked by a veterinarian, given needed vaccines and microchipped," she said. "All animals are fostered for 30 days, to allow them to be claimed by owners, then put up for adoption if not claimed."

The experience of helping has been a rewarding one, Rankin said.

"There are many organizations helping humans, but far fewer helping the animals," she said. "I feel that I provided necessary goods to animals in need."

- Terri Leith