"Many owners are not ready" Numerous animals found after floods

Remagen · More than three weeks after the flood disaster in the district of Ahrweiler, the number of animals being discovered is slowly decreasing, according to the Remagen animal shelter. However until all of them are back with their owners, a lot more time is likely to pass. Despite all the suffering, there are also examples that give hope to the helpers.

 Many animals are brought to the Remagen animal shelter who have been separated from their owners in the course of the flood. (Archive photo)

Many animals are brought to the Remagen animal shelter who have been separated from their owners in the course of the flood. (Archive photo)

Foto: Martin Gausmann

A dog was rescued from a flooded garage days after the floods in the Ahrweiler district. The animal was completely traumatized, says Claus-Peter Krah, chairman of the Ahrweiler Animal Shelter and Protection Association in Remagen. Barely two weeks later, the same dog can be seen walking on a country lane alongside a horse - apparently relaxed, as can be seen from a video on the shelter's Facebook page. It's stories like these that currently encourage and motivate Krah and the team at the Remagen animal shelter.

More than three weeks after the flood disaster, the number of animals found alive is slowly decreasing. Krah estimates that 70 percent are currently finds are of dead animals. Again, he says, it is important that these are recorded. If the animals are chipped and registered, the owners can be informed on the basis of the data read out. This, he said, will enable animal owners to come to terms with the loss.

However, live animals still reach the Remagen animal shelter. In order to exclude that these infect others, they must first be quarantined. Since there is not enough capacity for this on site in Remagen, they are taken to helpers in the surrounding area, where they are cared for and nursed back to health. In total, dozens of animals reached the shelter after the flood. More exact data could not be given at present.

In addition, the shelter is trying to reunite missing animals and their owners. For this purpose, the team has shared wanted ads from the flooded area on its Facebook page. But it will take time for the bulk of the animals and their owners to be reunited, he said. "People just aren't ready yet," Krah says. In many cases, he says, people aren't even ready to rehome their animals yet because their current living situation doesn't allow for it. If you have a basement full of water, it's not possible to take in a dog or cat, he says.

Many owners search for missing animals via Facebook

In the search for missing pets in the wake of the flood disaster, pet owners are increasingly turning to social media such as Facebook. There are several groups on the network in which pictures of missing or discovered animals are posted.These groups sometimes have a four-digit number of members. More than three weeks after the flood, requests are still being posted there on a daily basis. Most of them are cats and dogs. But less common animals such as parakeets, ducks and turtles are also sought in this way.

Also the animal shelter Remagen must deal with other animals in connection with the flood and not only with cats and dogs. According to Krah, animals have also been found that are rarely found in the Ahrweiler district: In Walporzheim a bearded dragon was discovered, from Sinzig came a boa constrictor.

The willingness to donate for the animal shelter Remagen is great

Meanwhile, the great willingness to donate presents the helpers of the Remagen animal shelter with unexpected challenges. At present, there is simply no more room for donations in kind. "We no longer know where to put them," says Krah. A craftsman from Remagen has helped out at short notice with storage capacity. It will still take time to deliver all donations in kind, the administrative effort is enormous. He alone, as chairman of the animal shelter and animal protection association, received about 400 e-mails per day.

The entire animal shelter team would learn in the current situation: One person had asked via Facebook for special food for a cat with kidney disease. "Then 100 people at the same time came up with the idea of bringing us food," says Krah. Currently, monetary donations would help best. The sums received for the animal aid fund have already helped a lot, he says.

For example, the owner of a gelding has been helped with treatment costs. The animal had been carried away in Lohrsdorf by the water and could be rescued only several kilometers from Sinzig. In the future, too, animal owners will be supported with money from the relief fund. According to Krah, it will be carefully checked whether there is really a need. Thus already free riders were noticed, who were not at all affected by the flood. At the same time, there are people who urgently need help but are ashamed to make use of it.

Krah estimates that not all animals have been found. There are likely to be animals still separated from their owners who have to find their way in an environment that has been greatly changed by the floods. Dogs are generally picked up more quickly than cats.

Currently, many animal relief organizations are working in the affected area along the Ahr River, he said. According to Krah, many of them are doing a good job. But there are also organizations whose commitment is dubious. Animals who have been found would be brought, for example, to distant cities, where their owners would never look for them. This would make reunification more difficult or prevent it.

(Original text: Jan Wiefels, Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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