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Katrina's Tiniest Victims Get Help With 'SNAP'

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RALEIGH, N.C. — In the wake of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, Dr. Laureen Bartfield went to Louisiana to help out with some of the storm's smallest and forgotten victims -- the thousands of animals left behind by their owners.

"It was truly a disaster in every sense of the word," Bartfield, the director of the nonprofit spay-and-neutering program called the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program of North Carolina.

Bartfield, just back from helping out, came back with a dog she calls Gator and more than a dozen cats. Gator was severely dehydrated and had trouble breathing. One of the cats tried to take in kittens that lost their mother in the storm, but just could not keep up feeding them on her own.

"You are safe now," Bartfield tells a kitten that sits in the palm of her hand.

Some are so small that they are getting bottle-fed.

The veterinarian took the SNAP hospital-on-wheels, slept in a tent and tried to help the kittens and hundreds of other animals suffering from starvation and serious wounds.

The trip was exhausting, Barfield says. She and other volunteers worked 18-hour days and performed surgeries on the animals in the middle of the night.

Despite all the animals they could save, thousands more were could not and had to be euthanized.

"The eyes of these pets -- they are as distressed as their owners are," Bartfield says. "It truly takes an emotional toll on them, as well as people."

Now, Gator's picture has been posted on the organization's Web site, in hopes that his owner will claim him. If not, he will be available for adoption in the Triangle area. All the kittens, as well as the cat will also be eligible for adoption.

For more information on adopting them, send SNAP an e-mail via its Web site: www.snap-nc.org.


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