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Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Four-legged evacuees arrive here in style

Seattle Times staff reporter

To help rescued animals


Contact Pasado's Safe Haven: http://www.pasadosafehaven.org/ or call 360-793-9393

When it came to his company jet, Bellevue car magnate Jimmy Barrier had one rule — no dogs.

But weeks ago his wife, Patty, woke him up with her worries about dogs, cats and other pets left stranded and starving after Hurricane Katrina. Barrier said he told her they could send money, which drew a sharp response.

"I said, 'What's wrong with you? We have to get those animals out of there,' " Patty Barrier recounted yesterday.

The Barriers, who have three cats of their own, flew to New Orleans yesterday and loaded 20 dogs and five cats onto their jet. During the nearly four-hour flight to Seattle, Patty Barrier cooed to a Shih Tzu cuddled in her lap while her husband sat crammed next to a whining pit bull.

The Barriers, the crew on the Barrier Motors jet and volunteers from Sultan-based Pasado's Safe Haven spent much of the afternoon surrounded by slobbery dogs and mewing cats at Boeing Field. Pasado's volunteers rescued the animals in New Orleans, but no one there reclaimed them, said Susan Michaels, co-founder of the animal-welfare group.

From Boeing Field the animals headed to Redmond Animal Hospital, then to Cascade Kennels in Woodinville for grooming, Michaels said.

Since the first volunteers arrived in the hurricane-torn region earlier this month, Pasado's Safe Haven has received more than 200 inquires from local residents wanting to be foster parents to displaced animals, Michaels said.

All of the animals brought in yesterday have been temporarily placed in homes, she added. More animals will be brought here from New Orleans in the coming weeks. If the pets' owners in the South do not claim them by Oct. 15, the animals will be available for adoption, Michaels said.

Claudine Erlandson was ecstatic as she kissed her new foster dog — the black and white Shih Tzu that Patty Barrier had snuggled on the plane.

"I want to help as much as I can," said Erlandson, of Seattle. "If a family wants him back, I will give him to them, but I hope I can keep him."

Erlandson said she wanted to join other volunteers in New Orleans, but a bad shoulder kept her home.

Shortly after they arrived, Pasado's volunteers set up an animal hospital on a 100-acre horse ranch in Raceland, La., Michaels said. Raceland, about 45 miles south of New Orleans, didn't sustain heavy damage from either Hurricane Katrina or Rita.

Michaels said animals that Pasado's volunteers rescued have been treated in Raceland, then taken to a massive shelter in Gonzales, La. — home to animals abandoned across the state — to live until they are reclaimed or adopted.

Bill Brockhaus, a volunteer from Monroe, said he found animals living in moldy homes filled with toxic water. He said nearly 70 percent of the dogs he found were pit bulls.

Pasado's volunteers have so far rescued more than 700 pets, Pasado's officials said.

About 20 volunteers have gone to New Orleans and returned home; nearly 25 rescuers remain there now with plans to search another several thousand homes for pets. Teams are armed with lists of addresses in and around New Orleans where evacuees said they left their pets, Michaels said.

Chuck Bartlett, a Kirkland pet-store owner, said he wasn't able to sleep, shower or eat much in New Orleans. Bartlett, who returned home Sept. 18, said breaking down doors and shattering windows became second nature.

"I saw a war zone. ... We would go from house to house and listen for animals," he said. It's amazing what you can do with a 35-pound crowbar."

As the animals left Boeing Field yesterday, the crew of the Barrier jet started cleaning the interior so it could once again be used for business.

"Animals are our angels," Patty Barrier said. "I didn't have the stamina to be a rescuer. We had the Barrier Motors plane."

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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