Snowball! The Little Dog Who Broke The Nation’s Heart! Animal Rescue Responds to Katrina

Snowball! The Little Dog Who Broke The Nation’s Heart! Animal Rescue Responds to Katrina

During the Katrina evacuation from the Superdome in New Orleans, thousands of people were pushed up against barricades trying to get a seat on a bus that would take them out of a hell hole. Amongst the pushing bodies a little boy held on to a small dog. The were both frightened, hungry and thirsty. Hope abounded when the busses finally started trickling in. Then adroitly a police officer confiscated the little boy’s dog. Dogs are not allowed on the bus. As the dog was pried from his hands the child squealed in anguish “Snowball, Snowball.. ” and was so overcome with grief he vomited.

Hurricane Katrina has devastated the Gulf Coast, and the human death toll is climbing. For survivors, concern over pets left behind only adds to their trauma. Some evacuees who had vehicles were able to take their pets with them, but thousands entered the Superdome being forced to leave the animals they love behind to fend for themselves. Left heart wrenchingly to face a terrifying hurricane, all alone.

For those animals who did not perish in the hell that was Katrina, their worst was yet to come. The water started rising. Many animals lost and confused started wandering the streets in a world they didn’t recognize, hungry and thirsty and longing for their guardians.

A woman came rushing back to find her entire apartment reduced to oversized matchsticks, but the loss she expressed was only for her dog. “My dog was in the apartment!” she cried out and tears rolled down her face.

A white Labrador stuck in a tree, stranded and terrified looked confused as people just passed him by. But the rescue effort for humans does not have a big enough social heart to include our animals.

Dogs who were carefully rescued and held by families on top of rooftops were abandoned as humans were evacuated. Elderly residents who had stayed in water-logged residences for five days just to safeguard their beloved animals– were forced to leave their animals behind to starve, perhaps to drown. An elderly man got into the boat, his dog patiently waiting for him to invite him in, but instead, he watched his owner float away. “Max” cried the man… “Max” he cried realizing his folly too late as his rescuers hurriedly moved them out of range.

A brave group of animal rescue organizations mobilized to find and rescue dogs, pets, horses and other animals. A shelter was discovered with animals still inside that had not had food or water for three days.

Frantic e-mails over the internet made one sick to the stomach. “Could someone go and feed my animals?” Not knowing if their animals were even alive after a week with no food or water, or if in fact their homes still existed, all they wanted was for things to be so simple… just feed the animals. A poignant picture of a cat in the open packed suitcase made one cry. If only they could have left the luggage and taken the cat.

Samson, a big white and brown boxer had been alone a week – he survived. He was left at a veterinary office when the hurricane hit and his family evacuated to Dallas without him. His mellow face was imperative enough for rescuers to offer to drive from other states to go and search shelters in the disaster area.

“THEY FOUND HIM!” yelled the posted message. “He was taken to Gonzalez with the other animals from the clinic. THANK YOU for your help and understanding. I am eternally grateful…” their infectious joy snatched up as a small consolation by all who needed something good to hold on to amidst all the sorrow.

A pet shelter was set up at Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette, right next to the Cajundome. Evacuees could bring their pets there for housing. They reiterated that they had “PLENTY of food, water, crates, cages, bedding and newspaper. BUT the owners are responsible for feeding, watering, walking and medicating their own pets.” And then the cruelest cut of all.

Many of those pets who hugged close to their guardians and survived the hurricane, floods, hunger, thirst and evacuation, have been dealt one final blow by economic necessity. The have been given up for adoption. Their Guardians greater need? To rescue themselves right now.

A group of students at LSU set up an ad-hoc rescue center at the LSU AgCenter/Parker Coliseum housing animals in crates, the “tent home” for dogs. But rescuers can bring large numbers of animals and crate them while they are waiting to be reunited with their owners.

But money for animals is much harder to find. They need 1,000 more extra large air-kennels (open crates), animal supplies, towels, bowls, veterinary supplies, tick and flea medicine and experienced animal shelter volunteers.

“Please, donate at MuttShack Animal Rescue. We need more homes for animals! Every crate is one more life saved!” says Amanda St. John, Founder of MuttShack Animal Rescue.

Hopefully somewhere amidst the rows of crates filled with broken-hearted animals we will find Snowball.

God bless the little boy who jolted our national conscience and made us look repugnantly at ourselves and how we treat our animals…