Woman Rescues 21 Dogs in 12-Day Hurricane Ordeal
NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 28 -- After Hurricane Katrina, Inis Zelaya spent 12 days trapped in the flood waters of New Orleans. She does not know how to swim. However, her only concern was the safety of her pets and those belonging to her relatives and friends. Throughout the ordeal, Zelaya risked her own life to rescue 21 dogs.
“I live for my animals, they are all that matter and the fact they are now safe makes me happy every day. I love them and they are my life,” said 49-year-old Zelaya, who lost everything in the disaster, including her home on Cleveland Avenue.
“I used a ladder to get over the water to my neighbor’s home and bust her window to get the dogs. I don’t know how to swim so if I had fallen in I had no chance. Next I got a small boat and managed to move all the animals to the first floor of one property. People and animals were dying and drowning all around, it was very scary.”
“Those 12 days were a nightmare, but I knew I just had to get those dogs out. Eventually the Army came and they evacuated me, and I insisted the dogs went too. Some belong to my cousins and my aunt -- everyone is happy they survived.”
With help from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Zelaya is caring for all the rescued dogs in her own dedicated area of the LSU Emergency Relief Animal Shelter in Baton Rouge. IFAW is playing a leading role at the shelter by providing transport for animals, administration help and other crucial support.
“The courage this woman displayed is inspiring and beyond belief,” said IFAW’s Emergency Relief team leader, A J Cady. It is hard to imagine the hell she went through to save these animals. We are glad we can now give her a helping hand in looking after them and getting her life back together"
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) Founded in 1969, IFAW works to protect animals and their habitats. With offices in 15 countries around the world, IFAW works to protect whales, elephants, great apes, big cats, dogs and cats, seals, and other animals. To learn how to help, please visit http://www.ifaw.org
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