I hope you got here from Lamar-Dixon Chronicles #19: Wrapping Up so you have some context. If not, I suggest you go back to the beginning (Lamar-Dixon Chronicles: Introduction). Each episode links to the next for continuity.
I have crawled the web looking for additional information about the Animal Rescue aspect of Hurricane Katrina, including specials and blogs that were available at the time, plus several documentaries and books that have been released since. There a lot of lessons learned during this disaster, with its unprecedented scale. Animal rescue organizations have evolved their response plans, HSUS and ASPCA have been further exposed for their astronomical overhead expenses and mixed agenda. One of the most important changes that came from Hurricane Katrina is that FEMA now has to deal with evacuating pets with the people.
Here are my suggestions for the most relevant TV and Radio stories, Documentaries, Books, and Blogs/Articles/Websites.
Television and Radio
- Animal Planet Heroes: Hurricane Katrina Rescues (41.42): Features Jane Garrison, founder of ARNO (Animal Rescue of New Orleans), who was the volunteer coordinator at Lamar-Dixon
- Animal Planet Heroes: Hurricane Katrina Reunions (42:50)
- Nature (PBS) Katrina’s Animal Rescue, A Happy Reunion (1:54): One family’s success at Lamar-Dixon
- Dateline: Hurricane Katrina Animal Rescue segment (6:23): Featuring the Best Friends shelter in Mississippi (Slydell?)
- NPR Story on Katrina Pet Rescue
Left Behind Without a Choice (Emphasis Entertainment, 2008)
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina turned the Gulf Coast region into a sea of loss and despair. Our nation sat in dismay as our government failed to respond.
Animals desperately searched and pleaded for help as they were left behind with no choice but to endure a hurricane, floods and a fight to survive the streets on their own. People from across the United States, Canada and countries abroad heard their cries and took it upon themselves to do something about it.
Left Behind Without A Choice explores the less media-friendly side of the animal rescue efforts. The physical and emotional conditions of the animals are told by the very people who cared for them and nurtured them back to health as they recount their journey with Hurricane Katrina animal rescue. A few animals’ stories have been completely documented from peril to the path to recovery and are included in this documentary.
Featuring the staff of “Best Friends Animal Society” and music by Jessy Greene, Wally Borgan and Marc Perlman (Jayhawks).
Written, directed and produced by Kim Walsh-Borgan.
YouTube Trailer (2:53)
Available formats: The Bay Team library (Free to members); DVD ($20.99)
Dark Water Rising: The Truth About Hurricane Katrina Animal Rescues (ShiDogs Films, 2006)
Over 50,000 dogs and cats were left behind in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The pets (mostly dogs) that survived the flood were locked in houses and chained to fences without food and water for up to six weeks.
A small group of brave rescuers from around the world risked their lives to sledgehammer down doors, brave toxic floodwaters and dodge corrupt cops in a race against time to rescue up to 10,000 trapped and starving animals.
They discovered widespread scenes of horrific torture, death, disease, neglect, and thoughtless abandonment of dogs. They broke the case to the FBI of sadistic police officers who needlessly tortured and shot more than 20 innocent dogs at three schools in the St Bernard Parish area.
Some rescuers worked with the official rescue organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), while others joined a more aggressive rescue outfit, code named Winn Dixie.
This film also tells uplifting stories of hope and survival, as pets were reunited with their owners while other lucky pets found loving new homes.
These hard earned lessons will help our nation understand the need for animal evacuation plans in natural disasters.
Join me for a behind-the-scenes look at the grim reality of the life and death struggles on the toxic streets of New Orleans.
Available formats: Amazon Prime Streaming (Free to members); DVD ($24.95); YouTube ($2.99)
Hurricane Heroes: Survival Stories of Katrina Animal Rescues (ShiDogs Films, 2006)
Over 50,000 dogs and cats were left behind in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as FEMA required that all animals be left behind in the mandatory evacuation.
This forced separation created America’s first-ever major animal rescue.
A dedicated and compassionate group of volunteer rescuers and animal welfare groups from around the world risked their lives to sledgehammer down doors and brave toxic floodwaters in a truly heroic effort to save nearly 10,000 animals.
Hurricane Heroes is a film about hope and survival in the face of one of the worst natural disasters in American history.
It will renew your faith in the American spirit.
Available formats: Amazon Prime Streaming (Free to members); DVD ($19.95); YouTube ($2.99)
Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned – Cathy Scott and Clay Myers
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many animals had to fend for themselves because their owners lost them or were unable to care for them. In Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned, Cathy Scott documents her experience working with the Best Friends Animal Society triage center to rescue lost animals and reunite them with their owners. Over two hundred stories with accompanying photos describe dramatic and challenging rescue cases with details about the rescues, the examinations, treatment, and follow-up care by the selfless volunteers who worked to save beloved best friends.
Available Formats: Kindle, Hardback, Audible
Hurricane Katrina Animal Rescue: A Story Buried Deep – AJ Meadows
What would you do if you had only hours to evacuate your family and furry loved ones from the danger of a national disaster? In the heat of the moment, would you be prepared to take immediate action?
Using author A.J. Meadows’ personal stories of existing in a warzone named “Katrina,” this book outlines a plan easily implemented that will aide in alleviating the stress of the unknown. Being disaster ready is vital to your animal’s survival and well-being, also offering you desperately needed peace of mind in times of trouble.
Meadows witnessed the destruction and horror following a national disaster during her ten-day deployment in New Orleans while rescuing animals in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. She hopes through retelling her own stories to provide readers with information to ensure they are disaster ready, through such examples as:
- Preparation of your disaster bin, complete with items imperative to your animal’s welfare.
- Protection of your family in times of danger by being aware of your animals’ behavior and others.
- Taking into consideration past mistakes, and making them work to your benefit in the future.
Available Formats: Paperback
Orphans of Katrina: Inside the World’s Biggest Animal Rescue- What Really Happened on the Gulf and How You Can Help Save America’s Pets Today – Karen O’Toole
A compilation of over 60 stories with photos; it’s a master’s blend of both humorous and poignanat writing. A heartfelt journey deep inside the greatest animal rescue in history.
O’Toole’s acute eye, and insider photographs, are a sharp witness to the poignant, fragile land where man and animal band together in a the ultimate race against time. She exposes this searing, uncharted world with revealing photos, striking observations, and surprising rescue tales. As she walks us through this unfathomed land, she makes a moving plea, and gives us a road map, to help America’s pets today.
Orphans of Katrina is a vivid journey, a historical account, and a celebration of the volunteer rescuers–and the animals we share our world with.
Available Formats: Kindle, Paperback
Blogs, Websites, and Articles
There are so many web resources, I can’t possibly list them all. Here is a sampling of the ones I found. You can Google “katrina animal rescue stories” to find many more.
Eric’s Dog Blog – this was one of our key resources during the emergency when the situation was changing and we needed to know where to send. Scroll down on the right and look as his archives from the Sept/Oct 2005 timeframe and you’ll see just how fluid the situation was.
Storms 411 – another amazing real-time resource. Self-described: “This blog is the top resource online for Hurricane Katrina pictures / pics, storm tracks, a picture, coordinates, flooding, tracker, tracking, forecasts, photo/photos, map/maps, information, forecast, reports, path.” I believe it probably was.
Kim Upham’s blog – first-hand blog by a rescue volunteer from Portland.
Best Friends – The Legacy of Katrina – Two Years Later – great summary of lessons learned, many other articles on their site
Lousiana SPCA – simple but compelling chronology of the disaster as it unfolded and the aftermath.
Animal Rescue of New Orleans (ARNO) – This organization was founded by Jane Garrison (from Charleston SC) and two friends in the wake of (and actually, in the midst of) the Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts. With assistance and coordination from Best Friends, ARNO was handed off to locals about six months later. In addition to continuing their rescue/shelter/mission, they continue to focus on the lessons learned from Katrina.