Being separated from the one you love can be heartbreaking even for cats and dogs. Volunteers are caring for hundreds of displaced animals, many of which are from the coast, at the Forrest County Multi-purpose Center on Highway 49. The recently formed Mississippi Animal Response team runs the shelter. The hope is to give our four-legged friends some happy endings.
The volunteers say they can sense the pain of the animals still waiting for someone to come for them. On Wednesday, Judy Simon found herself taking part in an unplanned afternoon nap with a small dog.
"She cried when I left her," said Simon. "She sticks her little paws out of the gate just wanting someone to come back and love her."
Since being pulled from rubble, his caregivers say the dog they call "Max" has also been feeling down. Although his tag lists a Gulfport address of 6054 McArthur Lane, no one has been able to contact his owners.
Cindy Ramsey says she's heard a lot of sad stories. "You just give them love. So many of them are traumatized so they've been totally displaced just like the people of the area."
Volunteers have been spent weeks bathing, feeding and treating Mississippi's displaced animals. There were 1,000 cats and dogs there. Now there are about 600. With the temporary shelter set to close at the end of the week displaced animals are being sent out of state.
"Just because they're out-of-state doesn't mean they won't get them back," said Laura Devin of the Humane Society of the United States. "We're already working on bringing animals back. We just couldn't have them in this facility indefinitely so some will get adopted out at the end of a 30-day period. They'll get adopted out to new homes. Others, if the owners find them, we'll get them back to them."
A bell rings every time a lost pet is reunited with its owner. Volunteers say that sweet sound makes all their hard work worth it.
Officials say all the displaced animals were decontaminated, vaccinated, and photographed.