Hurricane Katrina

Animal Sightings

ARNO Maps: Animals Seen
9/10/06, LeAnne G  ~  So many still search. Just last month two pets went home to heartbroken [guardians] who'd nearly lost hope.

Food-Water Sections
Sections B/C Chalmette Sightings
Section 10 Animal Sightings
Sections 12-17 and 27 Sightings
Sections 25-26, Lakeview
Section 9 Animal Sightings
Section 11 Animal Sightings

Food-Water Sections
Sec 8 (Audubon, Uptown, Milan)
Sec 10 (Hollygrove, Dixon)
Sec 11 (Mid-City NW)
Sec 20 (B.W. Cooper Apts)
Sec 25 (Lakeview South, Metairie Rd/City Park Ave/Harrison Ave)
Sec 26 (Lakeview North)
Sec 27 (Mid-City Fairgrounds)
Sec 33 (Read Blvd West)
Sec 35 (Desire Area)

Additional Maps

Black kittens Trick and Treat are two of the animals available to adopt from Little Lights Sanctuary 260x184

Little Lights

Little Lights Animal Sanctuary
P.O. Box 62743
Lafayette, LA 70596-2743

Featured: Trick & Treat
These sprightly young kittens are in desperate need of good homes. They get along well with dogs and are extremely lovable. Please consider these beautiful felines. They would greatly appreciate your love and compassion. Reply To: 337-981-2300,

LLAS is a no-kill, nonprofit focused in births, emergency rescues and retirement of wild and domestic animals. We are at work on a 24-hour clinic and the city's only pet cemetery. LLAS was deeply affected by Rita and Katrina. On 8/28/06, we begin a mission to trap felines at a mobile home park slated to close. We have only 30 days. Without support these animals will starve and die. Traps are needed, plus donations for neuters, shots, health tests, etc. And don't forget our current residents. Even $10 a month helps us give better care. We are a sanctuary, which means many animals spend their lives here.

Katrina Suicide's Dog Needs Home

9/6/06 Emergency Help Needed, by meimeikitty  ~  My wonderful neighbor, so full of life and beauty, was unable to stand the stress of post-Katrina life. She committed suicide yesterday. She was my friend and will be missed. Her dog is with me, a full breed Rhodesian Ridgeback. I need to find a good, stable home for him. He is an excellent dog, housetrained, up to date on his shots, well trained, and just gorgeous. I wish I could keep him, but I have two big dogs. Anyone interested, please email me. And please pray for my friend.

Volunteers, S.O.S!

Independent Food/Water Program
Traci Kestler, 504-975-5971

Can You Spare 1 Day A Month?
  • Feeders
  • Warehouse workers
  • Phone workers
  • Computer workers
  • TNR trappers

Food and water for homeless animals is our focus. If you don't want to do feeding stations, we need you somewhere. NOLA animals are desperate, with more reports of death by dehydration and starvation. Just one day per month, not even full days! You'll relieve weekly feeders.
This young stray, possibly born after Katrina, was found on Terrytown, LA streets 268x246

Found: Terrytown Dog

  • Breed: Hound Mix?
  • Gender: Male
  • Size: Medium
  • Age: Young, Born Post-Katrina?

Description: This cute boy has been seen on the "D" streets of Terrytown, 70056. Very friendly with dogs, people. Short reddish-brown coat with T-shaped white mark on chest and tail that curls atop his rear end. He likes to stick his head between people's knees. Sweet and lovable. If no [guardians] found, he'll need a home!

National Guard found Duke, a tan white American Staffordshire Terrier Mix, in a deserted building after Katrina 268x232

Found: Duke

  • Breed: Tan/White Carolina Dog, American Staffordshire Terrier Mix
  • Distinctive Feature: Scars on face that appear to be from buckshot
  • Gender: Male  /  Size: Medium

Description: Duke loves people! His favorite things are being in someone's lap and looking up at people. He has some very primitive sounds and habits.

Last Seen: New Orleans, LA 70112. Nat'l Guard found Duke in a vacant building in Oct. He went to Best Friends in Tylertown.

Contact: If you recognize Duke or want to inquire about him, reply to: 920-499-7475
Petfinder Emergency Rescue
Max, a Rottie Lab Mix, was apparently rescued from his New Orleans backyard with an SPCA notice left there, but is now lost in the system 268x141

Lost In System: Max

  • Breed: Rottweiler Labrador Mix
  • Gender: Male (intact)
  • Age: 6 Years  /  Weight: 75 Pounds
  • Lost ID: PF54691

Description: Photo above is NOT Max, but very closely resembles him. His head is shaped more like a Lab than a Rottie, and his points are dark brown, not tan. Closely docked tail (half to 1-inch). One bottom canine tooth has a flat tip, not pointed. Calloused elbows, energetic, likes to jump.

Last Seen: Backyard of home on Stemway Drive, New Orleans (Orleans Parish) 70126. There was a wooden fence around yard but he may have gotten out. There was a SPCA "Stop Feeding Sign" and a "dog rescued" notice posted on neighbors' door at 4715 Stemway. The address could be off by a couple of numbers because the neighbors did not have pets.

Contact: Laura Marinari
Remote Reunion Campaign
Humane Society Louisiana offers a reward for information leading to arrest of man accused of mutilating this dog, Toby 268x210

Update: Dog Maiming Case

Donate For Toby'S Surgery
Humane Society of Louisiana
P.O. Box 740321
New Orleans, LA 70174

9/4/06 Suspect To Be Charged, Jeff Dorson  ~  The individual who set out a rusty trap to ensnare and maim Toby, a stray dog, is expected to be arrested and charged soon by St. John Parish deputies. After Toby was freed from the trap, the suspect fled his property. He recently resurfaced and his name and new address have been forwarded to the sheriff's department. A sheriff's officer contacted our agency and Linda Allen, St. John Parish Animal Shelter director, to assure us the individual will soon be picked up and charged.
This very old kitty, name and origin unknown, has been found in the wake of Katrina 268x256

Found: Unknown

  • Breed: Dark/Light Brindle Shorthair
  • Distinctive: Cataract in left eye
  • Gender: Female (spayed)
  • Age: Senior
  • Weight: 7 Pounds
  • Petfinder ID: PF63429

Description: This kitty is very old. She is comfortable in her bed and does not ever have to leave us. If her [guardians] cannot retrieve her, we want them to know she is safe and happy.

Contact: If you recognize this cat, or want to inquire about her, reply to
Petfinder Emergency Rescue
Max, a Jack Parson Russell Terrier, was rescued with another dog after Katrina, but now lost in the system 268x479

Lost In System: Max

  • Breed: Jack/Parson Russell Terrier
  • Gender: Male (unaltered at rescue)
  • Age: 6 Years  /  Size: Small
  • Lost Number: PF534

Description: Max is short-legged, with a smooth coat. He is white with a brown face and ears. He has brown spots in shape of half and full saddles on his back, which go to his belly.

Last Seen: On 9/8/05, two dogs were rescued from 827 2nd Street in Uptown New Orleans (Orleans Parish). One was found at Lamar-Dixon on 9/12/05. Max was not there. The [guardians] searched all barns and were told to return in a few days, which they did. Still no sign of Max. Fact: Max was taken to Lamar-Dixon, for his [guardian] found the photo of him crated (above) taken there, along with some of his soggy paperwork on a wet floor.

Lost Katrina Pets

Max's Mom: 504-913-8971

A Plea From Max's Mom
In the voice of Max: That's me Max, in the crate photo, at Lamar Dixon. I'm very missed and loved. My mom asked New Orleans Humane Society to pick me up, along with my fur sibling Zak. A lady named Louisa promised she'd bring us back to NOHS. That never happened. (Louisa is no longer at the shelter). Instead SPCA picked us up and from our home and brought us to Lamar Dixon. Mom came to get us on 9/12/05. She was very upset because I was not there. Zak was there and tried to tell her who took me without leaving any information! He tried and tried. My paperwork was on the floor, all wet, in water on the ground. It showed my approx age and breed. That's all I could leave my mommy to let her know I'd been there. She looked everywhere for me. And not one person could tell her where I went. Not a one.

There was a nice man who chartered his own plane to help animals to safety. His name was Boone Pickens, the oil tycoon. Some clues suggest I was on that plane headed to California. Many people were involved with this air flight. Mr. Pickens' sister-in-law Christine Penrod told a very nice lady helping my mommy search for me that she thought she had me and would return me. But when she called back she said it wasn't me. She said she'd buy my mommy another Jack Russell Terrier. While that was a nice gesture, the answer is nope. No Way, No How. I am irreplaceable! I am family! I have my own bed! I have lots of love waiting for me at my home! My mommy has tried to get an answer from HSUS and SPCA many times. No one will help me get to my home! I dream about going home. I love my mommy and daddy. I miss them. I miss Zak. I miss their kisses and hugs. Please someone, help me get back home! I have lots of love to give to my mommy for never giving up on me.
Hurricane Katrina kitten survivors need loving home 492x504

Dogs Seized From Abuse Get A Chance

Jefferson Parish law enforcers recently raided a Marrero kennel run by Patsy Chism, 61, of 2501 Colorado Drive. Officials seized 80 dogs, and sadly, due to severe health reasons, five dogs were euthanized. One puppy actually belonged to someone. Patsy Chism faces four counts of aggravated animal cruelty and 76 counts of simple abuse of animals.

9/10/06 Update, Laurel Ley  ~  On 9/10/06 Southern Animal Foundation (SAF) will evaluate animals to determine who is adoptable and who needs rescue. No animals will be euthanized for space. Some dogs are in bad shape, with dental or eye problems. Most are females (all but four) ranging in age from 3 to 7. The older dogs are in worse condition. Most dogs confiscated from Patsy Chism are Chihuahuas.

Seized Dogs Are Now Safe, But Your Support Is Needed!
  • Donated Veterinary Services
  • Foster Homes For Dogs
  • Adoption Into Forever Homes For Dogs
  • Donations to Cover Extensive Medical Costs
  • Transportation to New Homes

All dogs are under surrender order, so none may be returned to Patsy Chism. PetSmart Charities will fund some medical costs. More donations are critical to offset expenses.

Send Donations To:
Jefferson Parish
P.O. Box 10460
Jefferson, Louisiana 70181-0640
ATTN Elena, RE: Chism Chihuahuas

To Offer Vet Aid, Foster, Adoption:
Elena Jones, Director
Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter

Please do not contact Elena unless serious about helping. Do not send activist emails or general questions because Elena's plate is full.

There will be some media coverage for groups who can help these dogs.

Keep Miracles Alive At Roicy Duhon Animal Control

Roicy Duhon Animal Control
613 W. Pont des Mouton
Lafayette, LA (Off North University or I-49 N to Carencro)
337-291-5645, fax: 337-291-7051,

View Animals:

Roicy Duhon Animal Control is a rabies control facility in Lafayette Parish. They kill by gas twice weekly because of space limitations. Roicy is rabies control vs. adoption. All animals at Roicy AC are on death row, unless rescued. The current group needs salvation by 5:00pm Thurs. Animals not held over are gassed Friday morning.

9/9/06, Jennifer Rohrbach  ~  There are great animals this week. Everyone was held over, except for one cat and two sick kittens. Some, like the red Heeler, have been held over several times. We have many vetted dogs and cats who need somewhere to go.

Rescues/Shelters: Reputable organizations with references and high adoption rates that can take vetted animals, please contact me.
Flyers: Locals who would like a flyer to post at your vets, etc., email:

Sponsoring: Roicy Animal Control does not accept sponsorships since they are not an adoption facility. But sponsorship of rescue orgs that pull Roicy animals help cover vetting, especially heartworm treatment. Donation offers go directly to the pulling org or their vet/boarding facility.

Out-State Adopters & Rescues Welcome!
  • Come in person or send a local friend, relative, rescue group. Roicy won't adopt over phone or ship an animal.

  • Rescues must show proof of 501c3 status, spay/neuter and adoption policies. Fax forms to Virginia Lee: 337-291-7051.

Southern Animal Foundation
Atn: Anne Bell
1823 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

9/10/06, Deanna Theis  ~  SAF went to Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter to vet-check nearly 80 Chihuahuas seized in the breeder cruelty case. We checked 45 today (exam, vaccinate, deworm, heartworm test, nail trim). It was heartbreaking. These dogs were clearly deprived of social interaction and basic care. Note the horrific nail lengths on some dogs. They were all like that.

All dogs are in desperate need of dentals. Some have eye ulcers and skin conditions. Most have ear mites, but amazingly none have heartworms so far. We think the breeder kept up on ivermectin, to breed/birth without too many complications. They range from 3-8 pounds. All colors, shapes, sizes. More females than males, and all males are tiny. They are thrilled to be held and talked to. Some look fearful, probably never had so much human contact. Only a few were "snappy", but even that was just fear.

We left the shelter with 26 of them. It was all we could do not to take more. The remaining dogs come to our clinic tomorrow morning for us to physical/vaccinate them.

Potential Adopters: Contact SAF to give a little dog a second chance. Their health will improve after spay/neuter, dentals, a good bath and diet. If the 26 dogs are placed, we can get more out of the horrible shelter environment. SAF transports kittens to California in two weeks. We'd be happy to deliver to adopters near our route.

Because Of You…An Open Letter To Best Friends

9/8/06, Animal Rescue Front, Chris McLaughlin  ~  It's been one year since Gulf Coast animal rescue began. In the first weeks, daily news told of devastation in New Orleans and heroic rescue efforts. As our work continued, reports lessened but we stuck to the task at hand: saving animals. Many of you cried with us. You prayed for us, adopted our animals and donated so we could save more. Today I am sending you our last report, one that acknowledges the organization that made our work possible.

In total ARF rescued 594 four-leggeds since late Sept 2005. Not bad for a few novice humans who relied on wits, brains, and credit cards. In March 2006, when it looked like we would not receive grant money, Best Friends stepped in with a check. And they continued to send checks even after they'd exhausted their own Katrina donations. They covered medical expenses for the Waveland kids. They paid drivers for transports. They covered gas, crates, latex gloves, and vaccinations. Best Friends is directly responsible for saving Waveland four-leggeds. This letter is for them.

Dear Best Friends,
Tomorrow I'll attend a party in honor of Buddy. You may remember him. He is the young pup we found in Waveland last January with a shattered femur and dislocated hip. He was in very bad shape. When Pia Salk called Francis at Best Friends and to ask for help with his medical expenses, Francis didn't skip a beat and immediately consented. Tomorrow I will watch Buddy run around his new fenced in yard in Orleans, MA. He'll run on four solid legs, because of you.

Yesterday I was at my vet's office. Remember them? They've sent you thousands of dollars in bills. While there I saw a poster that Jill Coleda from Brewster, MA had tacked on the bulletin board thanking them for saving Teddy, a dog so sick with heartworm and parasites he almost didn't make it, not once, but twice. You allowed us to get him medical care. Today he is healthy, and more importantly he is loved.

Because of you 472 animals got out of Waveland, MS, "Ground Zero" for Katrina but largely ignored. Princess in North Carolina has a wonderful home and is heartworm-free. Brownie lives in upstate NY and Cole, Cyrus, Max, Ester, Anthony, Madison and Herbie are in the Pacific Northwest. That's not all the kids you helped, there are many more… Sailor Pete, Lola, Bailey Blue, Henry, Meggie, Katrina x2, Peeka and Boo, Spunky, Fergus, Little Boo, Walker, Coco, Daisy, Loki, Ricky, Sinatra, Sammy, Ella…

Next weekend Hancock County MS hosts a free spay/neuter clinic for animals of Waveland. Southern Animal Foundation in New Orleans provides the van. PAWS Chicago funds supplies, vets and marketing, and Friends of the Animal Shelter of Hancock County posts flyers, sets appointments and volunteers on-site. I'm told the phone is ringing off the hook and PAWS may repeat this Waveland event on an ongoing basis. Because of you this is happening.

You are the best damn animal organization in this country. Your were first to arrive and last to leave. On behalf of the four-leggeds, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. This experience not only changed their lives, but it changed mine as well.

With the utmost respect,
Chris, Founder, Animal Rescue Front

Lawsuit Launched In Animal Massacre

Pasado's Safe Haven, Susan Michaels, Cofounder  ~  While Pasado's Safe Haven rescued animals in post-Katrina New Orleans, our lead investigator, Mark Steinway, got a call about three St. Bernard Parish schools where evacuees had lived. They'd been forced to leave all pets behind, dogs tied on leashes, cats in carriers.

Mark learned all 33 dogs and cats had been shot to death. We called the Louisiana State Attorney General's Office, whose investigators joined Mark at schools. We bought 33 Rubbermaid tubs at a local Wal-Mart to scoop animal remains for forensic investigation. Under the watchful eyes of AG Office Investigators, we recovered bodies, shell casings and more evidence. Animals had been shot in their body cavity, neck, joints and legs, wounds that cause prolonged suffering. We ferried bodies (in the heat they'd melted into floors) to LA State Veterinary Teaching Hospital and Pasado's paid $7700 for necropsies. The State Attorney General began an investigation that led nowhere.

9/9/06, Civil Suit  ~  While awaiting justice in the criminal case, Pasado's has worked with a passionate New Orleans attorney to prosecute on behalf of people whose animals were killed. A Los Angeles Times story describes the civil suit that we've invested resources to investigate, interview witnesses, gather necropsy reports, and enter filing fees to bring this case to court. Eileen Comiskey leads efforts on behalf of plaintiffs. Jennifer Bishton, Marilyn McGee, and many more have supplied feet-on-the-ground aid. Our deepest gratitude to all!

Donations Appreciated! The attorney is donating hundreds of hours. Pasado's Safe Haven, a small nonprofit, is attempting to fund filing and deposition fees, air miles, and prepaid long-distance phone cards. Can you help? Those who slaughtered trusting, scared companion animals must pay. For all animals killed, and their guardians who mourn them, thank you!
Katrina Lawsuit - Pet Killings
9/9/06 Los Angeles Times, Ann M. Simmons  ~  John Bozes still pines for Angel Girl, the black Labrador retriever he called his baby. The dog was among more than 30 canines found shot to death at St. Bernard Parish schools after Hurricane Katrina.

Bozes is one of several [animal guardians] who believe deputies from the sheriff's office intentionally killed their animals. Now they plan to sue. "I want the families of those officers that did this to suffer the way I did," said Bozes, a former resident who lives in Brookhaven, MS. "I want them tortured the way those poor animals were. I'm going to make sure justice is served."

Attorney Eileen Comiskey said Bozes and others left animals at area schools when forced to evacuate without them after Katrina hit on Aug 29. Thirty-three dogs and two cats were later found dead at Beauregard Middle School, St. Bernard High School, and Sebastien Roy Elementary School.

Comiskey said the suit she plans to file in civil district court names as defendants the parish's sheriff, Jack A. Stephens, at least one deputy and a sergeant. It charges destruction of property and failure to safeguard property as an authorized custodian of the animals, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision on the part of the sheriff's office. Richard Baumy, a sheriff's office spokesman, would not comment on claims. But after the incident last year, Baumy said "our deputies did not shoot the dogs."
In photos, Kinship Circle's Brenda Shoss stands outside PGT Beauregard Middle School, a St. Bernard Parish school where sheriff's office deputies and seargents slaughtered 33 dogs and two cats. Evacuees were forced to leave animals in care of law enforcers, who murdered them. Rooms trashed with cigarette butts, shell casings, and bodies conjured images of good 'ole boys at target practice on family members like GiGi, Judy Migliore's toy poodle, shown in photo below as she was found, shot in the head.

Hope Waits: Complex Katrina Animal Rescue

A dog found very sick after Katrina and lovingly adopted is the subject of a court custody battle 293x255
Jazz, a 10-year-old cocker spaniel lost by her family in the chaos of Hurricane Katrina, was brought to an Austin shelter. She was adopted by Tiffany Madura and renamed Hope. Shalanda Augillard claimed Jazz was her dog and that rescue workers stole Jazz, who was left behind during Katrina.

9/3/06, Austin American Statesman Lawsuit Over Cocker Spaniel Underscores Katrina Rescue Problems, By Eric Dexheimer  ~  Tiffany Madura loves Hope, a cocker found in perilous health after Hurricane Katrina. But a New Orleans woman says the dog is hers and has sued to get Jazz back. A year after Katrina roared ashore, emotional debris lingers.

Some two dozen lawsuits have been filed nationwide claiming adoptive families have dogs who rightfully belong back with their Louisiana [guardians]. Four have been filed in Texas. The pet disputes are a simple reminder that, a year later, the animal rescue effort has been at best incomplete. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 animals were collected from the splintered and sodden remains of the most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history. Yet just 10-25% percent have been reunited with original Louisiana [guardians].

Each party at one time basked in national sympathy: the frazzled-yet-dignified residents of New Orleans; the selfless rescuers risking their lives for helpless animals; the compassionate foster families opening homes to sick and injured pets. Now those images are fraying.

While the majority of rescuers who poured into New Orleans were well-intentioned, legal clashes reveal some did more harm than good. "They were the same as looters," says Ceily Trog, an 18-year animal shelter manager in hard-hit St. Bernard Parish. "They stole our [sic] property. We needed help. Instead we got a kick in the ass."

The tug of war over pets has also scraped open a cultural sore spot. Many rescued dogs had serious medical issues. In some lawsuits, adopters assert that animals were so poorly cared for pre-hurricane that returning them would be tantamount to abuse. Because original [guardians] were largely inner-city African Americans, and most rescuers white suburbanites, a corrosive whiff of racism has tarnished some of the rescue narrative.

Disputes "generally involve the movement of dogs from poorer, black, less-educated [guardians] to richer, whiter, more educated people who improperly claim to be the new [guardians]," says Steve Wise, a Boston animal-rights lawyer involved in several of the lawsuits. "The argument that the dogs have been abused is, at its heart, an argument about class and racism."

With so many humans still suffering Katrina's consequences, dog fights may seem frivolous. Yet recent natural disasters have demonstrated that people forced to choose between remaining with their pets and fleeing without them will often stay, imperiling themselves and rescuers. Last month Congress passed laws requiring local governments to include animals in disaster-preparedness plans. Texas has already begun training volunteers to respond to the next natural catastrophe.

Last year, no such plan existed. So like hundreds of other animal lovers who felt compelled to respond to Katrina's epic destruction, Eric Rice simply jumped in his car and drove to New Orleans from Maryland. He spent the next month cruising the streets looking for displaced pets, catching sleep in the back of a rental truck. "Every hour you weren't working, animals were dying," he recalls. "They were drowning, hung up on poles, barely walking, trapped for days without food or water."

A surprising number of animals were reportedly killed in days following the storm, possibly by overwhelmed law enforcement authorities. Pasado's Safe Haven, a Washington State-based rescue organization, documented 33 dogs shot to death at schools in St. Bernard Parish, one of several such reported incidents.

In part because of their sheer number and passion, the animal roundup operation established in the days following Katrina's landfall quickly became chaotic. Although control of the operation officially fell to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, much of work was effectively ceded to private organizations, led by Humane Society of the United States, which set up a large shelter at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, 60 miles outside of New Orleans. In the days following the disaster, many other groups also established their own, unofficial headquarters and dispatched squads of people into the streets.

At the height of the operation, between 5,000 and 10,000 volunteers were scrambling to save displaced animals, estimates Wayne Pacelle, executive director of HSUS. Pet-savers were often on their own, with little training or supervision. "Because there was effectively no controlling agency, you had lots of people who had their own ideas," he says. Turf battles were common.

Observers say most rescuers acted honorably. But it's now apparent that plenty of rescues did not go right. Even well-intentioned volunteers could be more passionate than helpful. Mimi Hunley, a Louisiana assistant attorney general working on pet disputes, recalls a French Quarter couple whose dog was "rescued" from their front yard while they were home. They haven't seen the dog since.

State officials initially ordered rescued pets to stay in Louisiana, but Lamar-Dixon owners soon capped the number of animals. "We either had to suspend operations or start sending them out of state," Pacelle says. Hundreds of local shelters and rescue groups nationwide opened their kennels to the exodus. From there, most pets filtered into foster families on the premise they be cared for until returned to their [guardians] or adopted permanently sometime in the future.

A vast online pet-reunification effort sprung up, again propelled by unofficial volunteers. According to local agreements formalized by HSUS and state agriculture officials in New Orleans, found animals were to be posted on designated websites. Hundreds of animal lovers logged on to help out.

"Rescue without reunification is not true rescue," says Marilyn Knapp Litt, of northern Bexar County. A retired webmaster for a federal agency, she started Stealth, an online network to track down [animal guardians]. At its peak, she says, more than 1,000 U.S. and Canadian volunteers scoured online sources to match unclaimed pets with [guardians]. "There are people who literally put their lives on hold for this," she says.

But many rescued animals vanished anonymously into the country, some victims of on-ground chaos and a tracking system unmatched for the disaster's magnitude. Others were spirited away on purpose. "Some groups just took animals and left," says Trog. "They would sneak blanket covered kennels past checkpoints."
Tiffany Madura loves Hope, a cocker found very sick after Katrina, but a NOLA woman says the dog is hers and has sued to get Jazz back 268x288 Rice recalls rescuers snipping ID tags off animal collars before driving them away. "Some rescue groups were not interested in seeing animals returned to [guardians]," he says. Madura, who volunteered at Lamar-Dixon for several days, remembers women fighting over small dogs, like matrons at a Loehmann's fire sale.

"I think many people got caught in the trap of falling in love with a pet," says Trog. But a number of rescuers also concluded they were saving pets not just from a natural disaster, but from irresponsible [guardians] who had callously abandoned their pets and provided only a minimum of care before that.

Pacelle says out-of-state rescuers were shocked, for example, by the high incidence of heartworm and the number of unneutered pets. "I've never seen so many testicles in my life," he admits.

Don Feare, an attorney who represents a Dallas-area rescue group and several Katrina adopters pursued by New Orleans [animal guardians], says the medical condition of rescued dogs and cats suggests many were treated poorly well before any hurricane or flooding. "People are trying to shove that off as cultural differences," he says. "Well, don't tell me that unless you're prepared to say New Orleans is a Third-World country."

Those familiar with animal law say neglect is tricky to define, though. "One man's appropriate medical care is another's ridiculous expense. It's a very personalized area," says John Bradley, who, as Williamson County's district attorney, says he struggles with animal neglect cases.

And Trog is fiercely protective of her constituents. "What are the standards for good treatment of a pet?" she asks. "If I don't let my dog up on the bed, does that make me a bad [guardian]? We were a poor parish, but we loved our animals."

"I'm the type who stops on the freeway to get an animal off the road," Madura says. She joined Katrina rescue efforts after she saw a group solicit crates for displaced animals. "I kept hearing desperate calls for personal items," she recalls. She collected towels, shampoo and other supplies, rented a van and headed to New Orleans. "I don't think I slept for three days."

After her return, Madura kept in touch with PawMatch, an Austin pet adoption group. On his second New Orleans trip, founder Andy Odom met a frantic volunteer at a Jefferson Parish feed store with unofficial rescue operations underway. "It was pandemonium there," he recalls. "This guy with a cocker spaniel told me the dog's family died in the storm and the dog was really sick. He said if he gave the dog to an official facility, she would be ethanized."

"I didn't think twice," he adds. The dog, renamed Hope Floats, was bloated to pregnancy size. Her hair was patchy and she bled from several openings. Odom found a foster in Wimberley and wrote about Hope's saga on PawMatch's website. He says it never occurred to him to post her whereabouts on a national website. "I'd been told the [guardians] were dead. Besides, the dog had obviously not been cared for."

PawMatch's story about Hope noted the dog's serious medical problems. After thinking it over, Madura, who lives with her boyfriend, offered to take her. "I'm looking for a last-chance animal," she remembers saying. When Madura picked her up, Hope still wore diapers and had little hair. "Some hair seemed matted, but it turned out to be her skin sloughing off," she recalls. A local veterinarian pronounced Hope's medical conditions — a serious skin ailment, bladder stones and a urinary infection — longstanding. Today, after an operation, doses of antibiotics and skin medications, and over $1,000 in vet bills, Hope is mostly healthy.

"When I first got her, I wanted to find the [guardians]," says Madura, who is white. "I was so sad for people at Lamar-Dixon looking for their animals. It was tragic." But over time she grew convinced she was protecting Hope. "This dog was dying," she says. "You don't return an abused, neglected child." Jazz is very loved now, but a NOLA woman has sued to get the dog back 268x295 Shalanda Augillard, who is African-American, last saw her then 8-year old Jazz on Aug 29, when she left the dog at her mother's New Orleans home on her way to the Federal Express facility where she works as a ramp agent. (Via her attorneys, Augillard declined comment.) Her mother was evacuated several days later.

Court filings say she tried to board a rescue boat with Jazz but was ordered to leave the dog. She reluctantly left Jazz in an upstairs room with food and water to last "several weeks." National Guardsmen later rescued Jazz, "a beloved family pet since a puppy," court filings say.

Augillard, whose home was not significantly damaged, says she began searching for Jazz as soon as she could, visiting Lamar-Dixon and posting about her on official websites. On Dec. 27, a Katrina Cocker Find volunteer spotted Hope on PawMatch's website and alerted Augillard.

Over the next four months, she, Madura and PawMatch argued over whether Hope was in fact Jazz. An exchange of veterinarian records didn't prove anything conclusively. Convinced Augillard wasn't the [guardian], Madura refused a meeting, and in early May, Augillard filed her lawsuit.

Since then, the dispute has turned increasingly nasty. A temporary restraining order removed Hope from Madura's custody to a neutral kennel. Three weeks later, a Hays County judge found insufficient evidence that Hope was the dog Augillard was searching for and ordered the spaniel back to Madura, where she remains.

A meeting in mid-July at a vet's office turned confrontational when Augillard and a lawyer showed up with a video camera and pursued Madura around the office. A recent DNA test concluded that dog hair Augillard says came from an old sweater matched that of Hope/Jazz. But Madura and her Austin lawyer, Michael Murray, contend the hair from the sweater was a plant, secretly brushed off Hope by Augillard during a recent visit, so the results should be tossed.

If Hope really is Jazz, the dog legally belongs to Augillard. Animals are considered property, and Louisiana law gives residents three years to claim their lost possessions. But even "If (Augillard) is her [guardian], Hope shouldn't have to go back," Madura says. "And as much as I love her, they can place her in someone else's care."

Augillard's reports on Jazz's health prior to Katrina have varied. According to one court filing, "The dog was in excellent physical condition" pre-storm. Augillard later said Jazz had a thyroid condition and kidney problems, but that both were being treated.

Litt, who follows such cases on her website, says the dog's health shouldn't be an issue. "Finders-keepers is not in the spirit of what this has been is all about," she says. A hearing to consider the DNA test results is scheduled.
Response To Hope Waits
9/3/06  ~  Excellent article on a tough subject that contains many angles. We sponsored a bi-weekly conference call for rescue volunteers and agencies in the Gulf region for 9 months [Kinship Circle participated in these conference calls]. Of course we heard and discussed many of these problems. It's extremely difficult to cover all bases when describing what happened to animals after Katrina. You can side with [guardians] and make perfect sense of the situation, or you can side with rescuers and make sense of that side as well. It's also a fact that though HSUS was put in charge, they left the area when Rita loomed. That left all remaining rescuers (and rescue continues to this day) on their own. You probably know that HSUS and others have been severely criticized for garnering dozens of millions of dollars and spending only a very small part of it before leaving when in fact, funds were still desperately needed.

Since rescuers, [guardians], lawyers, and even the Attorney General's office in Louisiana were asking us for advice and answers, I tried to show that it was impossible to issue one decision that would cover all the situations. There is a huge difference between the [guardian] who's pet was torn from them as they boarded the boat or the bus, and the one that left their pet thinking "he'll be all right, he can swim and he hunts rabbits". Remember also that most out of state rescue groups signed agreements stating that they would hold the animals for a stated number of months before adopting out, and they did that. Then along comes the [guardian] after that time and starts a lawsuit to get the pet back. You can see both sides.

We need a federal law, to mirror county and state laws, that limits the number of days a lost or rescued pet's [guardian] can legally demand return. Then you need only one national database (we are working on that now) where every rescued animals (no exceptions) is listed, with that animal's location and time left to claim him/her. There is nothing wrong with a previous [guardian] contacting a new adopter to ensure the animal is happy in their new home and even divulge useful medical information, etc. Also, as is the case in normal lost-found issues in most states, the [guardian] retrieving the animal must be responsible for any medical expense incurred by the rescuer. As I said, a huge number of angles. Thanks for your excellent article.

Capt. Ron Fach, Humane Law Enforcement-Florida
National Disaster Response Teams and Computerized Lost/Found Records
Pets911, 1-800-U.S.Stray