Hurricane Katrina and dog rescue

In a previous post where I discussed the strong bond that dog owners have with their pets and the joy of reuniting with them, I recalled the case during Hurricane Katrina when one young man refused to be evacuated unless his dog was rescued too. It was only when a person working for Oprah Winfrey’s network promised that he would take care of the dog and that they would be reunited later that he agreed to go. Their reunion later was something to see.

It is hard for rescue agencies to realize that these pets are like family members and that to ask people to leave them behind is something that many simply cannot bring themselves to do. These agencies will have to learn how to accommodate this need in future rescues. Volunteer groups went to the region to try and complement the human rescue efforts and save as many pets as they could and try to get them reunited with their owners or find other homes.

It is hard for people who do not have pets to understand the ties that bind us to them. I remember one radio announcer at that time got a lot of flak for saying that he could not understand the fuss that the young man in the above video was making when all he had to do was go to a pet store or shelter and get another dog. Of such a person, you can definitely say that he either does not have a dog or should not have one.


  1. philipelliott says

    You have reminded me of the scene at Parker Coliseum(LSU, Baton Rouge), where dogs, cats and other pets whose owners had evacuated were kept. The arena floor was full of dogs, corridors full of cats. My wife and I had a wonderful time walking, feeding, and just spending time with those dogs.

  2. H says

    In a rescue operation, where every minute may mean life or death for another human being, having people demand their pets be rescued is a real challenge for rescuers. While pets are certainly cherished as part of the family by their owners, saving a pet does not justify putting either the rescuers’ lives, nor the lives of other people needing help, at risk.

    If a pet owners disagrees, the pet owner should be prepared to sacrifice their own life to for the right to remain with their pet.

    Mark Twain wrote a hilarious piece about this. What a gentleman should do if his love interest’s family home is on fire. Save the young lady, of course. Oh, and her pet dog, too. And her favorite possessions. If her parents, her brother, and the maid all go up in smoke with the house, so be it. The gentleman has done his duty. He has saved what he really cares about.

    Makes you think about what is really important in a disaster.

  3. Katydid says

    Darn you, Mano, you made me cry. It astounds me that people can say that beloved family pets are “just animals” and should be overlooked. I think that’s completely wrong and wrong-headed.

  4. Katydid says

    Good gosh, H, you’re so right! That 24-year-old man should have gotten into his private helicopter and flown off to his winter home in Colorado, instead of saving his neighbor off the roof and looking out for the dog he’d cared for all his life! Why, THAT’S what’s wrong with people today--they just don’t plan ahead the way you do! All those people who were “lounging around” after Katrina should have had their chauffeurs and pilots whisk them off to safety. Can you believe “those people” were so lazy? Good thing you’re there to set them straight.

  5. Thorne says

    Of such a person, you can definitely say that he either does not have a dog or should not have one.

    That would be me. I neither have, nor want, any pets. Personal choice.

    However, in most instances I’m not against the idea of people living with animals. And I can, at least intellectually, understand people loving their animals as much as any other family member. But not to the point of risking the lives of others.

    In rescue situations like Katrina, the boats and helicopters have limited capacity. Every inch of that capacity MUST be used to save HUMAN lives (and service animals, of course). The same must go for food and water: saving HUMAN lives must have priority. Even taking the time to argue with a pet owner who refuses to leave his pet is wasting precious time. Others need to be rescued. How many of them might die while rescuers are trying to convince some idiot to leave his goldfish behind.

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