As Hurricane Katrina moves north, Allan Schwartz of Lisbon plans to head south with a trailer full of supplies to help rescue pets and farm animals endangered by the storm.
Schwartz is co-founder of Days End Farm Horse Rescue in western Howard County and has trained in swift-water and other types of large-animal rescue over the past 15 years.
He will join close to 80 volunteers who have been waiting in Florida and Texas for the storm to pass as part of efforts by the Humane Society of the United States.
Another 60 volunteers with disaster-response training are on alert across the country, said Anne Culver, director of the Humane Society's disaster services office, which is based in Gaithersburg.
Lauren Bond of Towson is the disaster-response program coordinator and will lead animal-rescue efforts on location.
After the rain subsides, the Humane Society volunteers will work with other volunteer organizations and local authorities to identify animals in need of help, Culver said.
After a disaster, team members respond to calls for assistance with animals, ask people at shelters if they have animals at home, track down people who were turned away from shelters that don't allow pets and drive around looking for animals in distress, Culver said.
After Hurricane Charley last year in Florida, Schwartz and other volunteers evacuated horses and goats trapped in floodwaters and relocated dogs, cats and rabbits to temporary animal shelters, he said. They also provided clean water and animal feed to farms with livestock.
"We dealt with literally hundreds of animals," Schwartz said.
Schwartz plans to leave about 4 p.m. today in a horse trailer stocked with supplies.
His farm has a sling that can be used to airlift horses and smaller slings and "glides" for moving horses and other animals onto trailers. He also has a 300-gallon water tank, a generator, portable fencing and medical supplies.
Schwartz said it is helpful to people to know their animals have been cared for.
"Some of them have lost everything they own," he said. "If you can make sure their pet ... is not going to be lost or if they can be reunited, it is an added sense of comfort for them."