Maxwell Aims to Reunite Pets, Owners
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala., Sep. 10, 2005 The Aero Club hangar here resembles Noah's Ark, with 25 dogs, 19 cats and one ferret rescued from the flood at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.
Airmen at Keesler evacuated the animals to Maxwell in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Volunteers helped calm the animals, ensured they were healthy and then set about finding the owners.
"Keesler took a hard hit," said Air Force officials. "Most likely these animals got separated from their families either as the families were evacuating or because they were mission essential personnel and they got out during the storm."
The animals may belong to airmen at any number of bases. In addition to here, Keesler personnel have evacuated to Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.; Robins Air Force Base, Ga.; and Randolph and Lackland Air Force bases in Texas. "We hope to find the owners of these pets soon," said Bethany Hixon, a relocation specialist with the family support center here.
To help, the Maxwell people have taken pictures of the animals and e-mailed them to the various bases. So far, they've been able to return five animals to their owners. They hope to load the photos to a Web site soon.
In the meantime, the animals are not kenneled in a hangar. Rather, officials placed the pets with families. "They have gone through some pretty turbulent times," Hixson said. "Being with families is what they are used to."
Two pets are already back in Mississippi. The Maxwell volunteers reunited two dogs with their first sergeant owner, who was labeled as essential and remained at Keesler. But he still found time to come up to Maxwell and reclaim Pork Chop and Baby.