Madeleine Pickens and Compawssion

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 A few years ago Frank Bruynbroek and I were trying to decide who to interview for Frank's book COMPAWSSION: Portraits Of Rescued Dogs. A few days later I came across an article in a San Francisco newspaper about Madeleine Pickens and her sister Christine Penrod, about how they rescued thousands of dogs and cats during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Along with several other animal lovers the two sisters organized a major airlift of cats and dogs orphaned by the storm. The Louisiana animal shelters were overflowing  with abandoned animals. Some existing shelters had to be shut down due to floods, and the remaining ones were jammed with animals orphaned by the storm. The situation grew worse as relief workers gradually picked up more animals wandering the streets of New Orleans or found them trapped in homes. Madeleine Pickens and her husband, Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, paid the estimated $50,000 fee to charter a Continental Airlines jet, and sought donors to fund similar transportation for another 3,000 animals, with 1,000 each going to the Bay Area, San Diego and Houston. The planes were greeted by camera crews, several dozen animal shelter workers and a dozen trucks labelled with signs marked "Operation Orphans of the Storm". Volunteers and staff of the Marin Humane Society and the Sacramento SPCA photographed and tagged the animals and took them back to their local shelters. There were originally supposed to be as many as 200 dogs on the original plane, including 150 earmarked for San Francisco. But, Louisiana state officials blocked most of the animals rescued from the hurricane from being taken out of state, citing the need to quarantine the animals for 30 days, in case they are ill. Despite the quarantine order, T. Boone Pickens personally drove a flatbed truck to the makeshift shelter in Gonzales, La., where he helped load the truck with several dozen animals and took them to the airport. The quarantine order was cancelled later that day. In addition to funding the airlift, the Pickenses also gave money to help human relief efforts. Pickens and employees at his oil company, BP Capital, gave $7 million to the American Red Cross. 

Needless to say, a few days after reading about this I contacted Madeleine Pickens and she agreed to have Frank come to Dallas for the interview. While Frank was there he also photographed the Pickenses rescued dogs. Tommy, an adorable, rescued Dachshund, is featured in the book. Following Madeleine's marriage to Boone Pickens, the couple led the fight to close the last horse slaughterhouse in the United States. Their work resulted in the passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act by the United States House of Representatives. Madeliene has always considered that people must be responsible for the care of animals,  "Animals don't have a voice, and as long as man is their protectorate, we have a responsibility to take care of them," she says. "We cannot abandon them." Madeleine Pickens' daily passion is the rescue organization she founded, Saving America's Mustangs Foundation, one of the featured charity organizations on the Compawssion web page.


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