amaze magazine :: winter 2005

Mindfully AmaZing

Stories of Man’s Best Friend
In collaboration with Actors and Others…for animals

Hope is what inspired Michelle LaPierre Skabut to drive from California to Louisiana with the goal of helping the animal survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Nearly 20 years ago, Michelle had come to California with little more than the car she called home plus a deep respect and love of animals.  At one point, she found herself in need of assistance for her animals, and Actors and Others for Animals was there for her, a kindness she never forgot and vowed to return one day.  She never gave up hope then that her sheer willpower to survive would prevail, and now that same determination -- that same hope -- was directing her to Louisiana along with Kim Holzhauser and Michelle Gavaldon.  These three remarkable women comprise Word of Mouth Advertising and Graphics, and are responsible for designing, hosting and maintaining the Actors and Others For Animals website, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of the humane treatment of animals.

Actors and Others For Animals website

In their own words, here is their 'Mindfully AmaZing' journey...

“Purchasing a Ford Crew Cab truck and 34’ RV/Hauler specifically for this undertaking, we headed out to the Gulf Coast on September 20th. With the awesome help from friends, clients and family, we collected donations and supplies for our trip.  In addition to monetary help with the cost of gas, Actors and Others donated crates and cages, pet food, medical supplies and other provisions in addition to emotional support and encouragement. Twenty years earlier, Actors and Others had also been there for me when I needed a helping hand.”

“Hurricane Rita threw us off course for three days, but we worked our way south to Louisiana finally arriving in St. Bernard’s Parish and the Ninth Ward on September 25th.  Here we built camp at an abandoned Winn-Dixie Supermarket where an independent group of volunteers established an animal rescue in-take triage center they called ‘Disaster Response Animal Rescue’.  Many of these volunteers ended up at Winn-Dixie because it was as close as they could get to the devastated and quarantined area. They were not part of any major organization and did not have a lot of money or supplies, just the compassion and hope of getting as many animals as they could out of the deadly toxic stew and the unbearable heat.”

Pulled out of flood gutted house the day we arrived.
“Suffice it to say that we saw horrors beyond description.  What is most important is that over 1,000 animals were rescued from the devastated areas of New Orleans by the good people who volunteered at Winn-Dixie of which we were privileged to be a part.  The animals arrived at the camp half-dead, battered, starving, scared and tired.  Some didn’t make it, but those that did were treated with love and care.  They saved them off of roofs and streets, out of attics and from under houses, and then tended to their wounds both physically and emotionally.”

“After an exhausting two days at Winn-Dixie, we loaded up our RV rescue wagon with 22 dogs – both big and small. Some were very sick and dehydrated and all were scared, especially, surprisingly, of the bumpy ride. We became a mobile M.A.S.H. unit.  All of the dogs slept the last 400 miles home without a sound, soothed by the music of Norah Jones.

“We delivered all of these dogs into the waiting hands of local volunteers -- all of whom have our deep appreciation and gratitude.   All, except one --  ‘Girl,’ a small shepherd mix with acute heartworm.   She is now part of our extended family.  Every time we look at her, we are reminded that nothing really is impossible if you have faith.  We are all heroes in the eyes of the animals we care for and protect.” 

“We can only wish that this great natural force, Hurricane Katrina, will make the world sit up and take notice.   Hopefully next time – and there will be a next time -- we will make ourselves and our children proud of our actions without any regrets.”

“Thank you Actors and Others for Animals for always being there, and thank you everyone who made this journey possible.

How can you help?


Sign the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, (H.R. 3858 (PETS Act), would require state and local authorities to include pets and service animals in their disaster evacuation plans. You could help save thousands of people and pets from anguish—even loss of life—during the next major disaster, just by asking your U.S. Representative to support this bill. Help prevent what happened after Katrina from ever happening again. Take action now. Please sign...

Make a donation to Actors and Others For Animals


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