Hurricane Katrina

August 29, 2005 To 2006

By Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle
August 29, 2005 marks the day Hurricane Katrina
cast people and animals adrift in a sea of loss.

When levees broke, a singular scream rose from
dark waters. Drowning out reason. Erasing hope.

Who would hear their cries, faint as ashes?
Who would see their fear, locked behind doors,
bound to fence posts, stranded on rooftops?

Thousands searched for familiar faces.
But eyes turned cloudy when no one came.
Huddled in bathtubs. Hidden behind walls.
A tail wagged. A purr took flight…
Caught for a second, then lost in the wind.

Who would hear them? Our government did not.
Who would see them? Our law enforcers did not.
Who would return for them? YOU DID.

Without much money, you jumped on a plane.
Drove cross-country, packed to the roof.
Because you were the eyes that saw each one.
You were the arms that held them all.
You were their food, their water, their love.

This is for you
Who read many words, spoke and searched…
For each tiny heartbeat, left in the wreckage.

This is for you
For every mile traveled. For every life saved.
August 29, 2005 - August 29, 2006
In October 2005, Animal Rescue New Orleans formed as a national volunteer coalition, largely in response to closure of Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, LA (the government designated disaster animal shelter). Though Katrina floodwaters had receded, animals were still trapped at known/unknown addresses or roaming a deserted and toxic wasteland. Jane Garrison, Pia Salk and David Meyer co-led original ARNO. Kinship Circle's Brenda Shoss served as original ARNO's Food/Water Assignments Director and National Volunteer Co-Coordinator with Kate Danaher.
Original Leaders Of Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO)
Position ARNO Coordinator
ARNO Cofounders/Directors Jane Garrison, Pia Salk, David Meyer
National Volunteer Co-Coordinators Kate Danaher, Brenda Shoss
Supplies Coordinator Colleen Kessler
Food/Water Assignments Director Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle
Ground Food/Water Program Cadi Schiffer
Food/Water Maps & Data Management Kim Johnson
Food/Water Assignment Spreadsheets Judie Mancuso
On-Site General Admin Director Jessica Higgins
Administrative Coordinator Bettina Rosmarino
Cat Trapping & TNR Coordinators, Trapping Requests Sharon Secovich
Dog Trapping Coordinator Jessica Higgins
Trapping Admin / Emergency (pregnant, sick, injured) Jane Garrison
Reunion Coordinators Liz Dubuis, Rose Moonwater
Reunion Consultant Donna Schwender, Stealth Volunteers
Guardians Searching For Lost Animals / Dogs Sharon Secovich
Guardians Searching For Lost Animals / Cats Liz Dubuis
Guardians Searching For Lost Animals / Consultant Anita Wollison, No Animal Left Behind
Dead End Guardian Searches Bettina Rosmarino
Webmaster Rose Moonwater
Special Projects Sharon Secovich

images from a year of sorrow and grace…

Cats left behind after Hurricane Katrina rummage for food amid debris under gutted homes 330x210
This pup walks on the ground for the first time in weeks since rescued after Hurricane Katrina 271x210
A rescued pup walks on ground for the first time since Katrina. The Forgotten Ones, Tim Gorski
A gray white cat is sighted at Biloxi feeding station 284x210
ARNO volunteers document and feed this gray and white cat at a Biloxi food/water station.
Butterscotch cat is sighted and fed on Montegut Street 284x210
Thanks for feeding my cat, I have him now 271x210
▲ Hear Song: I'll Stand By You
A left behind Katrina dog hungrily eats from an ARNO food water station 268x235

Pamela Jo And Pinky

Sat, 26 Aug 2006 Pamela Jo Hormiotis  ~  Thank you for the lovely words that best describe how I felt when I rescued New Orleans animals in Oct and Nov. The photo below shows me at a FEMA tent, Dec 2005, holding Pinky the Chihuahua mix I rescued and brought to a California foster (9 animals left NOLA with me). We found Pinky's [guardians], but they couldn't afford vet bills. Pinky developed lung cancer possibly from exposure to black mold. The foster mom, Rene Succa, adopted Pinky to give her a wonderful home until her death last month. Little Pinky survived floods, and was found floating on a piece of wood near the docks east of St. Bernard Parish.
Katrina animal rescuer Pamela Jo chihuahua mix Pinky, who survived floods floating on wood piece 320x258

I will never forget their eyes. I saw suffering and loss in each glance from the animals I encountered on empty streets in St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans East. The animals I had to leave behind will forever haunt me. I focus on those I got into loving homes, plus the wolves and wolfdogs I rescue in my daily life. That keeps me going. Blessings, Pamela Hormiotis, Lake Tahoe Wolf Rescue

I Cried Until My Heart Ached

Sun, 27 Aug 2006 Tara Foye  ~  Thank you so much for all your wonderful Kinship Circle emails. Your group is a miracle in itself and I so wish I could be at your tribal dinner to observe the anniversary. I've followed your reports since the days after Katrina hit. I cried until my heart ached and then wrote more and more emails, letters, called senators, etc. to get the PETS Act pushed through so that this heinous situaton can never happen again. Kinship Circle are the kind of people who make the world worth living in. Thanks also for the wonderful rituals, recipes, songs, quotes from novels… WOW, what a fabulous compilation. Tara Foye, Boca Raton, FL

For Animals And People Of New Orleans

Sat, 26 Aug 2006 Patsy Kruebbe  ~  Dear Kinship Circle, Just want to thank you for your continued love and care for New Orleans animals and people. Your newsletters are heart wrenching, warming, informative and uplifting. I look forward to every one. God bless you for all you do.

Patricia B. Kruebbe, President
Support Alliance for Stray Animals
POB 641877 / Kenner, LA 70064
office: 504-305-5013
hm: 504-469-5465,

In Love And Kinship

Sat, 26 Aug 2006 Nikki Morris  ~  Brenda, I must tell you what a difference you made in guiding me to their aid. You were never cross, though I know you must have been tired. You wouldn't say so, but even in emails, I knew. I'm just one of the many volunteers, twice to Magazine Street (ARNO) and a trip to Tylertown. When you lost your friend, Shannon, I sobbed reading what you wrote. But I know she knows… For volunteers, residents, and of course, animals in need, you made a huge difference. Your support and advice to get us where needed were invaluable. I've struggled with this, unsure of the right words… Thank you for leading me to Jane, Pia, Holly (original ARNO), Best Friends, MuttShack, all of it. I can't thank you enough. In love and in kinship, Nikki Morris (AKA, The Pest)

Katrina Dinner 2006

This August 29 the Lost Tribe of New Orleans is Invited to Join a Ritual Meal to Memorialize the One Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Kinship Circle's Brenda Shoss hosted a Katrina Dinner 2006 to honor animals in photos, prayers and prose. The ritual dinner (like a Seder) is a way to connect across rivers, roads, and skies. Welcome all New Orleanians, no matter where you are!  ~  I always told friends that "New Orleans is a state of mind." That is truer now than ever. The wind and water of Katrina fractured our beloved town. And despite varying individual circumstances, I believe that most of us yearn for wholeness. For reunion.

An idea came to me: How powerful would it be if every New Orleanian in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta and more towns across the country, sat down at the same time to recognize the last year's losses and reaffirm their connection to the city? And how great if this ritual centered around every homegrown New Orleanian's favorite activity, eating? The entire New Orleans diaspora could sit down, fork in hand, to tell the world that this was a special place, one worth fighting to restore.

I humbly offer a basic outline of the first ever Katrina Dinner to be held on the one year anniversary. The outline does not have to be acted out literally. My hope is that it will be fun and delicious with only a smidgen of hokiness. Like everything in New Orleans, feel free to improvise. Make up your own blessings, questions, or ritual food plate. Invent your celebration of the city that connects us all.

This August 29, 2006 only part of the city will be where it belongs: HOME. But we can still eat together. Justin Lundgren,
Katrina Dinner Rituals
Six rituals are to be performed before the meal begins and can easily be completed in about 20-25 minutes. Supplies needed include:

  1. Candles for the "Candle Blessing."

  2. A bag, preferably red, to hold elements of the "Katrina Gris-Gris."

  3. Guests bring a palm-size New Orleans offering, for the Gris-Gris.

  4. Copies of the service so all can participate.

  5. Music. Make a New Orleans-centric CD. Kinship Circle mixed songs from Katrina animal rescue videos with NOLA style jazz/blues.

  6. For the ritual food plate, gather teeny bits of: cane syrup, dill pickles, small chocolates, grits, corn kernels. And very large portions of wine. Kinship Circle held a vegan dinner in respect for cows and "food-production" animals who suffered and perished in Katrina and Rita.
Mandy and Cleveland join a Kinship Circle Katrina Ritual Dinner to honor animal and human victims 323x666 Mandy at a Kinship Circle Katrina Ritual Dinner to honor animal and human victims 248x230

Shannon, I Forgot To Tell You

Shannon Hartwick Moore
July 22, 1969  ~  May 30, 2006

June 3, 2006
Dearest Shannon,

Today I awoke in a sun-filled room. I'd dreamed about my trip to New Orleans to finally meet you and stay in your home. In that hazy rift between sleep and wakefulness, I did not remember you were gone.

I forgot to tell you: When we worked on Louisiana's Pet Evacuation Bill materials, you were so patient and kind. I was the stress machine. You thanked me many times for the PSAs, releases, and letter campaigns. That was your way, at least with me. I began to look forward to our conversations. Because, as women do, we'd passed from professional to personal. A bond had formed. I miss you Shannon and have this insane urge to call you.

I forgot to tell you: Thank you for your help when my puppy, rescued from a Missouri puppy mill, came home with a parvo-like condition, coccidia, giardia, and two little legs with missing bones. While Mandy was hospitalized on IV fluids, you called and called. You consulted your veterinarian uncle for advice. You were just there, unconditionally and completely. I wish you could see Mandy now. She is a spastic fluffball. We call her the walking hair-do.

I forgot to tell you: We were kindred spirits, you and I, with that precarious dose of passion and pain. Needing approval, but forging ahead, obsessively so. The last time we talked at length, I wanted to share a hundred more stories. You were a comfortable ear. I could open up, as you did with me. I don't connect easily. I grieve the friendship we lost and the one that would have grown.

For you Shannon, that line between valor and sorrow was thinly etched. People who practice compassion — not on a whim, but as their core — waken to daily questions: Can I save just one? How many can I speak for today? The fragile heart feels too much. Sees too much. Hears too much. Empathy gives way to anger and confusion. To experience the fear and pain of infinite animals can break the soul. Without a lifeline, isolation becomes unbearable.

I can never know the depth of your despair in those final hours Shannon. Like many who knew you, I am plagued with a thousand What-Ifs. I do know the world has lost an imperfect angel. A gentle spirit who could no longer find reason for hope.

Sleep among angels, sweet Shannon. Bring your love to the animals we couldn't save. I know you'd think this letter is a mush-fest and it would embarrass you. But the thing is, I forgot to tell you how much I cared.

Your friend, Brenda
From Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle
animal rescuer Shannon Moore at birth of a foal 374x318

Photos and places to share
your thoughts about Shannon:

~  Memorial Guest Book
~  Memories Of Shannon Blog
~  Photos Of Shannon
~  Photos: People & Pets Rally

Shannon Moore's Work For Animals Leaves An Imprint

June 29, 2006  ~  Shannon's work for animals transcends her death. Although Katrina ravaged her home and possessions, Shannon looked into the eyes of animals and saw hope. She never viewed Katrina rescue as a finite problem, but rather, as part of a continuum to elevate animal welfare standards in Louisiana.

Shannon planned and carried out a People & Pets March to Louisiana's state capitol in Baton Rouge. She was instrumental in rallying support and awareness about SB-607, Louisiana's Pet Evacuation Bill. Working with Kinship Circle's Brenda Shoss, press releases, PSAs, alerts, flyers, and action campaigns were streamlined into a non-stop push to pass a bill that ensures no pets are left behind in the next disaster.

On behalf of the animals she loved, Shannon formed (SOS) Supporters of Save Our Pets, and worked tirelessly to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of hurricane stranded animals. Shannon volunteered for food/water programs to sustain displaced pets and strays in the streets. She advocated spay/neuter drives to help curb a pet overpopulation crisis worsened by roaming animals in the aftermath of last year's storms.

Shannon realized most of the lost souls she comforted knew warm laps, familiar voices and homes before the hurricanes. She became a Stealth Volunteer to assist in reunions between pets and their people.

Horses were Shannon's great love, and to help them she created the HayThere group to assist hay producers and consumers via an online marketplace for hay and feed goods.

One of Shannon's great gifts was an innate ability to bring information, people, transports and supplies together. If all else failed, she'd hop into a vehicle and deliver the feed/supplies herself. It is difficult to estimate the huge quantity of food and supplies she moved for large and small animals struggling to survive in Gulf Coast areas. She was a one-woman information clearinghouse. Any animal rescue group who needed statistics, a news story, or contact information counted on Shannon. Shannon Moore, Senator Fonenot, rally to pass SB607 and ensure evacuees are never again forced to leave animals 591x301

A Miracle, A Journey

She seemed like a shadow, a forgotten dog collapsed inside a bathtub. Skeletal and weak, Bubbles could not raise her head. She was the last known dog found alive inside a vacated, closed home in New Orleans.

Original ARNO volunteers and rescuer Rob Stone got Bubbles on October 20, 2005, nearly two months after Katrina struck. They guess she used her final strength to crawl in that tub. Searching for water drops? Or maybe to die.

But fate had other plans for Bubbles. She was rushed to Southern Animal Foundation (bless this rescue/veterinary group for saving so many souls!) for emergency care. From post-Katrina New Orleans, she began an odyssey of hope, letdowns, and more hope. Along the way Bubbles became somewhat legendary, especially among Katrina rescue alums.

One fact is clear: Bubbles found her forever guardian angels in Colleen Kessler and her husband Gary Schick. Colleen, original ARNO Supplies Coordinator, and Gary opened their hearts and home to Bubbles over the course of various challenges and failed adoptions. No matter how Bubble's journey unfolded, they were ready to retrieve, transport, foster and love her.

In 2007, I had the honor of transporting Bubbles from Los Angeles to Colleen and Gary in San Francisco. Bubbles first adoption hadn't worked out, so she was headed back to Colleen and Gary until another post-Katrina family could be found. Time spent with Bubbles at our hotel, restaurants, long car drive…was wonderful! A true sweetheart with her head in your hands.

Of course I wanted to take her home myself, but a house already full of cats and dogs was not in her best interest. Bubbles needed a focused, one-on-one transition from her trauma (which likely began long before Katrina, since she was in horrible condition and left to die) to her new life.

The thing about Bubbles? Lots of people love her. Her eyes express gratitude. The other thing I know is this: All animals want to live. We humans don't own that instinct. Bubbles may be just one dog. But to me, she has the will of a thousand beings — an unsinkable will to live.

Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle
Bubbles with her second adoptive family in 2008 268x250

Chronology Of A Disaster
In Bubbles Facts

Above, Bubbles is deliriously happy to see (and get belly rubs from) her guardian angels, Colleen Kessler and Gary Schick, in San Francisco. Photo and Bubble Facts from Colleen Kessler,

  • Aug 29 2005 - Katrina hits NOLA.

  • Aug 31 2006 - 80% is underwater.

  • Aug 31 2006 - SAF is open and rescuing local animals.

  • Sep 4 2005 - Lamar Dixon opens for LASPCA animal rescues.

  • Sep 24 2005 - Rita floods LA/TX.

  • Oct 12 2005 - ARNO is formed due to HSUS pull-out.

  • Oct 14 2005 - HSUS pulls out, closes Lamer Dixon. "No animals to be rescued."

  • Oct 20 2005, 11:50pm - Bubbles is rescued! (From a bathtub in a closed home, emaciated, unable to raise her head). SAF begins crisis care.

  • Feb 6 2005 - Bubbles flies to Los Angeles.

  • Feb 13 2005 - Bubbles road trips to San Francisco for foster care of Colleen, Gary.

  • Jun 16 2006 - Bubbles home visit with potential family in Los Angeles.

  • Jun 30 2006 - Bubbles has a new family!

  • Aug 28 2006 - Bubbles moves with Pretty and her new family to Arizona, to live a long happy and loved life!