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Treading Water


Around the one-year anniversary of Katrina, a lawyer with Best Friends Animal Society contacted Downs and offered to help her pursue legal action to determine if this dog is in fact Lil Bit. If he is, Best Friends will help Downs bring him home.


Planning and Prevention

A poll by the Fritz Institute showed that 44 percent of people who did not evacuate stayed out of concern for their pets, versus 18 percent who stayed because of relatives. These numbers clearly show that allowing people to take their animals with them would save human lives as well.


In order to prevent the pain and suffering of pet separation and loss, Downs was one of many pet owners who shared her story in support of the Louisiana Pet Evacuation Bill, which passed both the state Senate and House and was signed by Governor Kathleen Blanco in June 2006. The federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act passed both houses of Congress and awaits President Bush’s signature. Under terms of the act, government at both local and state levels will be required to create emergency preparedness and disaster plans that include provisions for companion animals. In the future, this will save the lives of both people and animals, as many victims of Katrina died because they refused to leave their pets.


In the meantime, affordable, long-term housing continues to be an issue for many New Orleanians, and a special challenge for dog owners. While the LA/SPCA has not seen a higher percentage of owner-surrenders compared to the past, Maloney thinks that for some, the reasons are Katrina-related. “I think what we’re seeing is more dogs turned in who have been members of a family for a number of years [but] people can’t have them in their FEMA trailer, or they’re living where pets are not permitted. I’m surprised that people … are not more compassionate.”


ARNO takes Katrina-evacuee surrenders from outlying shelters directly into its foster homes. “We take in surrenders [from] Katrina victims still living in their vehicles, or who can no longer afford to keep their pets,” says Lilly. “This is a very sad situation. Many middle-income families with no housing, and no out-of-town relatives or friends, have been forced to live in their vehicles, waiting for 2006 to end so they qualify for food stamps or other government aid. This is the unknown truth about Katrina and her unpublicized victims.... The poor have social services that can help them with food, clothing and even housing. The middle income has no one.”




In 2005, we presented “In Their Own Voices,” and asked people to share their stories with us. Recently, we caught up with three of our earlier contributors.


Melissa Seymour and Mark Jackson took in Sparkle, a senior German Shepherd, soon after Katrina. They found her owner, Delford Thomas of New Orleans, but having lost his house and job, he told them he could not support her. The couple adopted Sparkle and made plans for her to undergo hip replacement surgery. Unfortunately, her bad hips were a symptom of degenerative myelopathy, and her condition has since deteriorated. Sparkle doesn’t like her special mobility cart, so Jackson, whom she adores, carries the 85-pound dog wherever she needs to go. Seymour says that as long as Sparkle is alert and “full of spunk,” they will continue to make her as comfortable as possible.


CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Karen Peckham | February 16 2010 |

A Canadian dog lover and owner of a precious golden retriever, it is unimaginable to me what happened after Katrina to make this disaster even more devastating for pets and owners who thought of their animals as lone companions, best friends, and even family members as our Hudson is, too. I would hope and pray such a system was in place that if dog or child, ALIKE, were ever misplaced, I would have a BETTER chance of reuniting with them than government or rescuers made possible for victims in this sad circumstance. Malvin Cavalier was truly BLESSED to have a shining light, like Sandra Bauer, advocating for him and Bandit... GOD BLESS HER!

Submitted by Pete Milliet | April 26 2010 |

I was wondering if you could help me out. I am trying to get in touch with Sandra Bauer from Ontario Canada. I recently saw her on a video called "Mine". I just want to drop her an email and tell her what a wonderful job she did reuniting Bandit back to his owner Malvin from News Orleans. Keep up the great work. We need more people like you & SV to help our PETS!!!! Thanks....

Submitted by Lisa Wogan | April 26 2010 |

Try contacting her through the film's website at http://www.minethemovie.com/contact-us/ I'm sure she'd love to hear supportive comments.

Submitted by Travis Seek | August 30 2010 |

I just ran across this story. I was the Crew Chief in this flight. Wha a great event, we got to help out a family and even though they were almost ready to go with out there beloved dogs. Me and my junior crewman were not going to let that happen. We just had one thuht in our minds, " what if is was our pets! " Hope this family is doing good and enjoying there pets. One of my greatest memories!


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