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Local Veterinarian Raises Money to Help Pet Owners in Hurricane Ravaged Areas

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – With thousands of animals stranded and injured in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, there is a call to bring pet relief to the hardest hit areas. A local veterinarian, who is from Louisiana, is working to raise funds.

Doctor Timm Otterson grew up in Louisiana. He attended Louisiana State University's School of Veterinary Medicine. Otterson now works for the Summer Street Cat Clinic in Buffalo and Getzville caring for cats who live in this region. Although his family no longer lives in Louisiana, he has close friends and colleagues who do. They are okay, but he says the destruction has changed his hometown forever.

"It is pretty awful," Otterson said. "It is depressing for everyone to see this, but to see a place where you use to live now totally leveled, and knowing all these people and friends lost their homes and businesses, it's awful."

As an alumnus of the veterinary school in Louisiana, he was asked to help in the pet relief effort. That's when Otterson says he decided to step up and begin collecting for the already established Pet Emergency Fund. It was started about five years ago in Erie and Niagara Counties. The money is used to help people who can not afford to care for their injured pets. But now local donations will be collected throughout this month to help the animals in the gulf region.

"I got a letter from my dean requesting that alumni pitch in and help," Otterson said. "Since I couldn't help, I brought up this direct connection to the Pet Emergency Fund."

Otterson says a number of animal clinics were destroyed by the hurricane.

"The veterinary school has been inundated with requests for care," Otterson said. "There are a lot of shelters around there that are probably overwhelmed as well."

The local SPCA is also helping in the pet rescue efforts. It announced last week that it will be sending trained staff members and volunteers to participate in animal rescue and relief efforts in Louisiana.

Donations to the Pet Emergency Fund can be dropped off at local emergency clinics, or mailed to directly to the Fund at P.O. Box 2846 Buffalo, NY 14240. To learn more you can go online to Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society.