Getting Back To New Orleans

There is nothing like attending a vet conference, especially when it is held in New Orleans. One of my favorite cities in the United States, New Orleans is filled with history, art and food, food, food. New Orleans and pet birds are synonymous to me. The first time I went there it was because of a bird show. Through the years I’ve been back about once every three years give or take a year or two – usually because of a pet bird seminar or vet show. The last time I was there, it was just a couple of months before Katrina hit. It broke my heart – all the devastation. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) held its annual convention there this year. A big thank you to the AVMA for supporting this city and helping it get back on its feet by bringing in convention money. People actually thanked me for coming to their city. I never had anyone in the United States thank me for visiting their city before. It made me teary-eyed. I got to spend some time with Dr. Greg Rich and his wonderful wife, Rene. I’ve known Dr. Rich for years and had attended his well-loved Mardi Gras Avian Seminar at least twice in the past 10 years. Dr. Rich and Rene lost their house and the practice due to Katrina and had to rebuild. I didn’t get a chance to see his new practice, but the editorial team for Veterinary Practice News (one of Bird Talk’s sister publications) and I went out with the Riches for dinner one night. He told us a little about the aftermath of Katrina and showed us where the water was in the city. Talk about a strong man and woman. My heart and hand goes out to them. They are so amazing. If you’ve been thinking about going to New Orleans but are worried about your safety, I stayed there for an entire week, partly at the convention and partly touring around with my sister, and I was never concerned. I even got in a little bird watching (see photos). I also took the Katrina tour and it was quite moving. I saw a picture while I was there of an abandoned car. The rescue groups painted what they found in a house or the cars on the side. This car had one dog, two cats and one bird spray painted on the side. It meant that those pets were left in the car and didn’t make it. It still makes me want to cry. It was such a desperate time. I came home and reviewed my natural disaster kits. On the lighter side,  I also included a photo of Dr. Rich’s car. It was his post-Katrina stress relief. Riding around on a hot summer night in that black ‘79 Mustang made me feel like I didn’t have a trouble in the world. I can see why he got it. So get down to New Orleans and look up Dr. Rich at his veterinary clinic in Metaire. He knows where the best places to eat are!

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