Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned

Pawprints of Katrina will leave pawprints on your heart

By —— Bio and Archives--July 19, 2008

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imageThe shrieking winds of Hurricane Katrina could never drown out the frightened cries of thousands of animals left behind by human companions given no choice about taking their pets during evacuation. 

  It’s will go down as a kind of poetic justice that the happy barks and deep purrs of rescued dogs and cats are contained within the pages of Cathy Scott’s Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned.

Pawprints of Katrina, with a forward by actress and animal activist Ali MacGraw of Love Story film fame, is published by Wiley Publishing Inc.

  Pet lovers the world over agonized when they saw nightly news pictures of pets left behind in a Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and were left to wonder about their sad fate.

  Pawprints of Katrina tells the inspiring story of the fate of the abandoned pets, some ended in tragedy, many in against-all-odds happy endings.
  Every story in Pawprints is own treasure.

  As the jacket of the book promises, “Pawprints of Katrina will leave pawprints on your heart.  Make that indelible pawprints in stories bound to inspire young and old.

  Reporter Cathy Scott traveled to New Orleans at the request of Best Friends Animal Society to document the plight of pets displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  It was to be the best favour the Best Friends Animal Society did for animals and pet lovers everywhere.

  Staff and volunteers at the animal refugee facilities set up by the Society helped to rescue between 5,000 and 7,000 terrified, abandoned animals and reunited some 1,500 with their people, most of whom had lost everything.

  Scott, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, George Magazine and Reuters News Service among others, quickly became a rescuer as well as a reporter.

  In the aftermath of Katrina, these are the words on an actual note animal rescuers found taped to an apartment door, in the eerie silence of an apartment building whose tenants had been evacuated: 


Our names are Fifi and Cici.  We are both cats, one boy, one girl.
  “Please take us to a shelter.  Our doctors are located at the Cat Practice.
  “If you find us, we are in the restroom.  We have enough food to last us 5 days.
  “Please contact our parents, Daryl and Tasha, who love and adore us very much, at (and the phone numbers were given).
  “Please, we need your help!”

  Volunteer rescuers found the note and the cats a week later.

  You can imagine the joy at the other end of the telephone receiver when, even though it was 11:00 at night, the rescuers called the number on the note. 

  “Through her sobs, a grateful Tasha said, “It’s my birthday.  It couldn’t be a more perfect gift,” Scott wrote.

  And the moving story of the rescue of Fifi and Cici is just for openers.

  Scott’s book brings it all back in the most heartrending of fashions: “Most people did everything they could to give their beloved pets a chance to survive in the chaos after Katrina.”

  When all was said and done, there were sometimes tears and sometimes shouts of joy.  Somehow tens of thousands of pets had hung on waiting to be reunited with their people and beat the odds!

  No one could write their story better than Cathy Scott, both animal lover and celebrated reporter.

  In Pawprints of Katrina, you will read about Himie, a Rottweiler found with a plastic bottle attached to his collar holding a note and his eye medicine.  One of the lucky ones, Himie was joyfully reunited with his owner.

  There was Tenderfoot, a Black Labrador puppy whose foot pads were burned off by the toxic sludge.  He was treated for weeks and adopted.

  Who can forget the story of Bubba, a longhaired gray cat whose displaced owner drove for ten hours in a rented car to retrieve his cat—all he had left after Katrina—everything to him?

image  Red, a partially paralyzed Staffordshire Terrier, who was hospitalized for almost three months, was fitted with a special `wheelchair’, and eventually adopted.

  There are many stories of the rescue of the frightened pets and the most unlikely of reunions between pets and their families to keep you reading Pawprints of Katrina to the very last page.
  And it’s the kind of a book that when you reach the last page, you’ll want to go leafing back through the book again to find your favourite stories again.

  Pawprints of Katrina makes you believe once again in miracles like the incredible one of the two-and-a-half pound, aging Chihuahua named Itty Bitty, who somehow survived the raging hurricane, which flattened whole towns and cities.

  It’s a book that will be remembered long after it’s read and one that will leave images of “Big Bird the emu, who stood bravely among dogs and cats on a three-hour ride back to base camp.”

  The triumphs and tragedies are encompassed within the book’s 244 pages, including Index.
  The 32 pages of pictures, including some frightened dogs, peeking out from their hiding places under houses, are unforgettable.

  Hurricane Katrina with its heartrending images of people in tears when they were forced to evacuate without their pets could be immortalized in two words: “Never again”.

  As Scott describes in the most moving of words, the lessons learned in Katrina resulted in something wonderfully permanent. 

  “Just weeks before the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in August 2006, the plight of thousands of New Orleans residents and their pets led to a new federal law—The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act—that requires local and state governments to include household pets in their evacuation plans.  It also provides federal funding for pet-friendly refugee shelters.  Because of the dire experiences of Hurricane Katrina, animal owners will not have to choose between saving their own lives or remaining in a disaster-ravaged area with their pets, only to have to abandon the pets later.” 

  It’s a law that keeps pets and their owners where they should be—together.

A video is now viewable about Pawprints of Katrina.


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Judi McLeod -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com.

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