Amy Ranucci, a Rotterdam resident and owner of Waggin' Tails, proves the adage "a dog is man's best friend" is true.
"Actually, she is the best friend in this scenario," State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C - Schenectady) said. "Mrs. Ranucci, and her husband Michael, went to Mississippi to help the four-legged victims of Hurricane Katrina. In late September, they helped owners who could no longer keep their pets due to their circumstances by finding new homes for the animals."
In August, Category 5 Hurricane Katrina tore through several southern states, devastating communities and uprooting lives. Many people found themselves homeless and as they tried to re-establish their lives, they found they could not continue to care for their pets. Ranucci met with humanitarians from Project Halo, based out of North Carolina, and worked with the Humane Society of Southern Mississippi in Gulfport.
"One gentleman, who is in the military, visited the shelter we were working at and kept asking what was going to happen to the animals," Ranucci said, as she prepared for another trip to the South. "He wanted to make sure they were cared for and they were going to be sent to no-kill shelters. He returned several days later and the look he had on his face when he turned his dog over to me ... it was so, so sad ... so heartbreaking. They had lost everything. His wife had moved in with family in Virginia and he had stayed behind to organize what was left and to be with the dog. There was no way for him to get the dog to his family or even for the family to keep it. In fact, since then he has been shipped overseas and obviously couldn't take the animal with him. I found a home for their dog in our area and the new owner contacted the wife who was so happy to know her pet had a good home. It was good closure for that family. I have so many stories like this one, where owners had to surrender their animals and worried about the pets' futures."
Amy and her husband are leaving Saturday, October 29th, for Gulfport, where they will be working directly with the Humane Society. She said they are still taking donations until Friday night and they need crates, carriers, flea products and monetary donations. They do not need animal food due to weight and storage constraints -- they are taking over 2,000 pounds of food with them. They hope to return with 30 to 40 dogs and cats that will need homes.
"These animals are healthy animals," she said. "They are owner-surrendered animals, which means someone has loved them and has taken very good care of them. Most are trained and if they have problems, they are minor ones like fleas which can be taken care of easily."
Of the 15 animals that Amy brought back from her original trip in late September - early October, only one remains. "Sugar is so kind, she is actually excellent with children, just very weak," Amy said about the special needs, 5-year-old Dalmatian who is currently being taken care of by Dawn Van Wormer. "I would say a retired couple or a stay-at-home mom would be good for Sugar ... someone who has the time to take care of her special needs." Anyone interested in learning more about Sugar, and possibly adopting her, can call Ms. Van Wormer at 346-4656 or 357-9557.
Amy can be reached at 356-1100 until Saturday morning. After that, she and her husband can be reached at 470-5356 or 470-5619. People can call her to see what animals she is rescuing and if there is anything that may match their needs.
"With all of the media coverage of the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, we as New Yorkers know all too well how important it is to pull together during such a tragedy," Senator Farley said. "My constituents in the 44th Senate District are among the most generous when it comes to donating time and money to those in crisis, whether they are two-legged or four-legged. Amy Ranucci is truly an amazing and generous person with a kind spirit. I wish her well in her upcoming trip and I encourage others to aid her in her mission."
Amy added that after returning from this current trip, she will continue to collect monetary donations for the Humane Society of Southern Mississippi and forward them on to the organization. She and her husband hope to return again in the late winter or early spring if the need is still there.