Hurricane Katrina

2005 - 2007, A Lifetime In Two Years

During Katrina and Rita cows were stranded atop levees, crowded on small dry spots, even found in trees 324x558
Toll On Horses, Cows
During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, swift floodwaters (especially in southeast Louisiana) swept over farms and ranches, stranding cows atop levees and crowded on to small dry spots. Some cows were even found in trees. When water receded, saltwater soaked pastures left grazing animals without food. Damaged hay piled up across fields. Animals needed fresh hay and grain to stay alive. Some were rescued.

PETS 911, Capt. Ron, 1-800-U.S.Stray  ~  The best non-scientific estimate:
  • Approx. 5000 cows died in one day.
  • Approx. 1000 horses died [in one day].
  • 4000-6000 cows died from poison fields, starvation, and flood issues.
  • Over 2000 more horses [up to the end of the year] died for the same reasons.

2005 Fragments From A Tragedy

Excerpts from Kinship Circle Katrina Alerts

9/13/05, Rescue Boats Needed Now!
In our search for the little Yorkie, Spike, we've learned about volunteers on the water who could save Spike and others — but they desperately need more boats!

Jefferson Pet Feed & Garden Center (4421 Jefferson Hwy and Central Ave between Clearview and Causeway) is a drop site for boats and veterinary triage. Please, if you can bring down boats (or know someone who can) call Jefferson Pet Feed & Garden: 504-733-8572. This number, like all in the area, may be hard to reach. Do not give up. They are there! Or, better yet, drive down with your boats now.
9/16/05, Saving Spike: A True Katrina Tale
By the time New Orleans evacuee Brenda Johnson called begging me to find Spike, I already knew him. He was the faceless dog left behind. Now he had a name.

"Can you save our Spike? He's a big Yorkshire Terrier, about 15 pounds, left upstairs in our apartment on Roger Drive. We thought we'd be back in a couple days. I'm sure he's under my daughter's bed, scared." I overheard children, an aunt, niece and brother in her Lake Charles, LA hotel room. I also heard the crack in her voice. The Johnsons fled on Sunday at 2:00 a.m., just before Katrina struck.

I got through to "boat people," animal rescue groups, parish sheriffs, and ordinary citizens. On Brenda's behalf, I granted permission to break down doors and shatter windows. But with each passing day, I wondered "Is tonight his last? Will the heat, starvation, or water finally take him?"

On September 16 — more than two weeks after the Johnsons evacuated — Brenda called me. "They found Spike. He is alive." Brenda Johnson and Brenda Shoss screamed with joy for one full moment. Spike is alive! This story is about love. It's about saving Spike.
Sep-Oct 2005, Grassroots Effort For Animals Of The Storm
Kinship Circle, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization, and Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), a nonprofit no-kill shelter, initiated a relief effort for the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina. Grassroots Effort for Animals of the Storm mobilizes volunteers/supplies in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We direct veterinarians, vet techs, rescuers, transport services, trained animal disaster relief workers, shelter/foster agencies and others to stricken communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas.

ARF and Kinship Circle also manage a drop/distribution site for supplies. Items such as food, hay, cages, crates, veterinary meds, equipment, and much more are stored and circulated to storm areas. By October, the Kinship Circle-ARF alliance sent supplies to nearly 80 shelters and rescue missions across four storm states.
Above photos are scenes from original Animal Rescue New Orleans, a national volunteer coalition formed in Oct 2005 as the state-designated animal shelter — Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, LA — closed its doors. When Katrina floods receded, a toxic wasteland emerged. Animals were still trapped at known/unknown addresses or roamed empty streets. Residents forced to evacuate without their animals (some with guns aimed at them or their animals) were desperate to find them.

It was the largest companion (and farmed) animal tragedy in modern U.S. history. Original-ARNO's base was a shabby nail salon and debris-filled lot at Magazine and Felicity Streets, the only NOLA property found that wasn't reserved for human survivors. But volunteers came from everywhere. The (infamous) List of evacuee requests to save animals trapped in homes (3000 addresses) left Lamar Dixon in the hands of original-ARNO cofounders. In late October, a dog dubbed Bubbles was rescued from a bathtub. Emaciated and weak, Bubbles was the last known animal found alive inside a home.

Original-ARNO also sheltered-in-place, servicing 2,800 food/water stations over 650 square miles in Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines Parishes. Working from grid maps of the Greater New Olreans area, volunteers not only sustained animals, but also facilitated reunions with reports on each sighted animal. As original-ARNO's Food/Water Assignments Director, Kinship Circle's Brenda Shoss dispatched volunteers to 50 different mapped sections. Animals who survived initial disaster stages now faced starvation and dehydration, with no food or water sources in Katrina ghostlands.
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

2006 Local Leaders And Pet Evacuation Law Pave Future

New Orleans residents are recruited so Animal Rescue New Orleans can transition from national to local, long-term leadership. As of 2014, ARNO still rescues, shelters, adopts, and plays a strong role in NOLA animal welfare. Individuals who run resident-ARNO have evolved in the years since Katrina. Original resident leaders, many struggling with Katrina losses themselves, took over ARNO at the 2006 transition.
Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) Shifts To Local Leadership
Position ARNO Coordinator
Executive Director Charlotte Bass Lilly
Volunteer Coordinator/Shelter Manager Robin Beaulieu
Food/Water Assignments Director Susan Blackwell
FW/Rescue Consultant, Public Messaging Brenda Shoss (Kinship Circle)
Ground Food/Water Program Teresa Baker, Kelly Jenkins
Plaquemines Parish Coordinator Ramona Billot
Supplies & Fundraising Coordinator Melissa Cruse
Cat Trapping Administrator/Rescue-Trap Requests Leigh Schmitt
Emergency Trapping (pregnant, sick, injured) Leigh Schmitt
Cat Trapping/TNR Coordinators & Dispatchers Celeste Gilbert, Beth Rota
Dog Trapping Coordinator, Interim Robin Beaulieu
Reunion Coordinator Robin Beaulieu
Reunion Consultants Liz Dubuis, Donna Schwender (Stealth)
Guardians Searching For Lost Animals Anita Wollison (No Animal Left Behind)

To create a legal safety net for animals after Katrina stranded more than 50,000 in Louisiana alone, Kinship Circle's Brenda Shoss and resident Shannon Moore work with Senator Fontenot's office to promote passage of Louisiana Pet Evacuation Bill SB-607. Brenda crafts letter campaigns to lawmakers, press materials…and records stories from evacuees forced to leave animals. Shannon leads SB-607 rallies, lobbying and campaigns.

Cathy Wells, Sen. Fontenot's Aide, Drafts LA Pet Evacuation Bill
SB-607 gives the state authority for the humane evacuation and sheltering of companion animals in disasters.

Louisiana's First Ever Animal Evacuation Law

6/17/06 ~ SB-607 Passes Legislative Process
LA Pet Evacuation Bill SB-607 passes in the House Appropriations Committee and the rest of the legislative cycle. Rep. Steve Scalise writes to Shannon Moore's mother, Jennie Adams, "I appreciate your passion to pass this piece of legislation and agree it is very important to have a pet evacuation plan in place. That's why I co-authored this bill."

6/27/06 ~ Gov. Kathleen Blanco Signs SB-607
Cathy Wells, Sen. Fontenot's aide who drafted SB-607  ~  "If it weren't for Kinship Circle's campaigns to legislators, this bill would not have had the success it did."

Katrina survivor Lisa Roussel  ~  "Without Kinship Circle and the many SB-607 alerts, we'd never have pulled this off! Louisiana's renowned dirty politicians would have ignored this bill. Because Kinship Circle urged us to bombard them with emails and calls, and updated us on a daily basis, you played a major role in passage of Louisiana's Pet Evacuation Bill."
Shannon Moore addresses the crowd at a rally she organized to pass the Louisiana Pet Evacuation Bill 310x325
Photos: S.O.S. People And Pets March To The Capitol Steps ~ 4/27/06 Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge.
10/10/06 ~ Federal Pet Evacuation & Transportation Standards Act Passes In U.S. Congress And Becomes Law

Kinship Circle joins the post-Katrina fight to save animals. We also initiate action campaigns to U.S. Congress and President Bush demanding a national disaster preparedness plan with provisions for animals. Signed into law, the PETS Act requires states to help evacuate companion animals in disasters or risk losing federal funds.

No one should ever have to choose between survival and their animals. Yet that is exactly what happened in Katrina's wake. Images are unforgivable: A white dog is ripped from a boy's arms as he boards a bus. A bewildered yellow Lab watches his family disappear in a helicopter. An elderly woman cannot receive medical care unless she deserts her cats. Katrina's human death toll might have been lower if an enforced plan to accommodate animals had been in place.

It was difficult to even grasp the expanse of the situation.
  • Some 50,000 to 100,000 animals stranded in New Orleans area alone.
  • Doesn't include other parishes or Mississippi. 40,000 to 90,000 died.
  • Some 15,000 thought to be saved by 5,000+ volunteers dispersed among 400+ groups.

Shannon Moore, the Louisiana resident, animal rescuer/activist who organized the rally and led support campaigns for the Pet Evacuation Act tragically ended her own life before Governor Blanco signed SB-607 into law on 6/27/06.  ~ Shannon, I Forgot To Tell You ~
scenes from plaquemines, upper 9th ward after katrina 661by430

2007 A Place Between Hope And Despair

Feb-Mar 2007 ~ New Orleans Now, A Place Between Hope And Despair
Kinship Circle traveled to New Orleans to aid Katrina affected animals… A wheat-colored dog races toward our vehicle at 1400 Montegut and N. Villere Street. A curious Shepherd mix follows. Behind them, a graying man in rumpled shirt and jeans approaches. He wants to talk. It's been nearly two years since Hurricane Katrina leveled his Chalmette, Louisiana home.

He lives in a makeshift room in his commercial warehouse in the Upper 9th Ward. When Louisiana State Police tried to evacuate him after Katrina, the man refused to desert Buddy and Baby Girl. "I have no wife, no children," he explains. "These dogs are my family."

An officer aimed his gun at Baby Girl, forcing the man to leave or watch his dog die. He quickly confined both dogs to an upper level, with self-dispensing food and water. Floodwaters rose eight feet beneath the dogs. But the man managed to sneak back into the city to retrieve them. "We still live in this 'temporary' warehouse apartment," he confides. "The insurance company I had for 18 years didn't come through for us."

As Katrina's two-year anniversary nears, Gulf Coast recovery progresses unhurriedly. Rejuvenation of infrastructure, debris pileup, demolished structures, levees and wetlands remains tangled in red tape.

In 9th Ward West, where Katrina's wrath seems frozen in empty doorsteps and board-covered windows, occasional new homes arise. Cats dart between dilapidated buildings and overgrown lawns…