It's a subscription site now, so I pasted the text for people to read..
`It's like leaving your kids behind' Owners refuse to abandon their pets
Private bus hired to evacuate animals
DAVID BRUSER STAFF REPORTER
NEW ORLEANS—There are two good reasons why Peter Block found himself still stuck in the city yesterday, with $116 to his name, slumped on the sidewalk and crying.
Venus and Serena.
They explain why, before Hurricane Katrina hit, he refused a ride out of town in a car full of friends but with no room for his most precious belongings.
They also explain why he risked a four-kilometre walk and swim in a city under siege by looters to escape the rising water in his neighbourhood near the 17th St. Canal.
The two stoic, black, 45-kilogram Great Danes, who would not fit in the getaway car, who swam and walked through the toxic streets with Block and did not eat anything but cockroaches for six straight days, stood by their owner yesterday as he finally let the fatigue and despair catch up with him.
"My dogs are my life and I can't leave them behind," said the 39-year-old contractor. "They don't know how to fend for themselves. It's like leaving your kids behind."
Block was one of about 15 pet owners who heard by word-of-mouth that a local woman, Robin Schaffer, arranged through a friend to charter a bus from Baton Rouge to rescue pets and their owners.
Katrina stranded pets by the thousand throughout New Orleans as evacuees either did not have space in people-packed vehicles, were forbidden by officials to flee with their animals, or simply put out a supply of food thinking a return to the city was only a few days off.
Inside the empty but still filthy convention centre, which earlier in the week served as one of the largest refuges for the stranded, two small, panic-stricken dogs standing on chairs barked and barked. They were alone, and probably had been for days.
In flooded neighbourhoods, starving dogs howled and felines caterwauled through broken windows on dry upper floors. One dog fought for balance on two boards free-floating in over a metre of stagnant floodwater. Near the heavily damaged Ninth Ward, groups of two and three dogs roamed the streets scavenging for food and drinking dirty water that had collected curbside.
On North Rampart on the edge of the French Quarter, the pet lovers gathered yesterday, waiting for the bus that was supposed to arrive at 10 a.m. but was held up at checkpoints in the heavily guarded city.
Both the New Orleans Police Department and the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg, N.C., stopped to offer the assembly a ride to a local shelter, but they could offer no guarantees that pets and owners would remain together upon evacuation.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- `My dogs are my life and I can't leave them behind. They don't know how to fend for themselves.'
So they stayed, peevishly trying to keep their dogs from wandering out of the shade onto the shards of glass that littered the sidewalk.
Antiques dealer Andrew Hopkins stood beside his lone suitcase and two mutts, Belle and Lebau.
"This is my bag," he said. "These are my babies."
Eighteen hours after the storm hit, Robert Elmwood realized that amid the chaos and quickly rising water, he lost track of Ebony, a small mutt left behind by his neighbours.
Then he heard scratching and whimpering beneath the elevated porch.
He chopped a hole in the front steps, saw Ebony tangled in wires, chopped another hole, and his wife used wire cutters to spring the dog free.
"I promised those people next door I'd take care of their dog. When I heard that squeal in the front, it was a sigh of relief. I'd chop the house down if I had to," said Elmwood, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He added he had turned down a helicopter evacuation because rescuers would not allow the dog on board.
"I have a lot invested in that dog. She was drowning. It was the most joyful event of this storm episode."
While the pet owners waited, a pickup full of New Orleans police stopped and asked if anyone knew where to get food and water to take to a dozen horses stranded across town. No one knew.
How the French Quarter pet rescue happened was Schaffer, who lives on a street where some landlines can dial out, got word to her father's friend, Carlos Pavial in Baton Rouge.
When the bus finally arrived with a Baton Rouge police escort aboard, Pavial walked out and immediately started stringing a sign to the side of the bus that read, "Pet Loving People."
Pavial said he does not know or care how much the bus company will charge for the rental. "I'm an engineer. I learned to find a need and fill it," he said.
Before leaving, Block, Elmwood and others had to put their dogs and cats into makeshift cardboard kennels and cover the bus seats and floor with plastic sheets. Once in Baton Rouge, the rescued will have to fend for themselves.
"Carlos, I love you," Schaffer said. "The impossible just takes a little longer."
***Edited By: MafiaPrincess on 9/8/2005 7:34:33 PM*** Reason: making the url shorter so it makes it readable..
I can nderstand why people don't want to leave their pets. I've had children, and I've had dogs, and you can give me dogs anyday of the week. they don't run to their room, slam the door and tell you they hate hate you ... LOL. And when they grow up and move away, they think they can run your life because they've become "adults." I do love my children, but I think I'd have a litter of puppies the next time around ... LOL.
***Edited By: harlee29 on 9/8/2005 8:31:22 PM*** Reason: *
I would not want to leave my pets, but if my choice was to stay there and die from bacterial diseases or leave without them, I would have to leave without them because without me, my human children have no mother.
Also, if my elderly grandfather was waiting to be rescued, and there was not room for him because the families on board already had their pets, especially large ones, and Grandaddy died before the next rescue load... then wow.
Hopefully, as soon as all the people who WANT to leave get out, they can start getting people with their pets. Though it's a noble thought, nobody benefits if you and your dog both die of bacterial disease. Is there a way to retrieve your animals once you have evacuated? Like leaving it somewhere secure and then go straight to some of the organizations that are saving the animals? That would be more helpful to your pets and human loved ones than to stay there and die. I don't imagine any vets stayed to care for the animals belonging to the people that are staying to rot. So staying would be a lose/lose situation.
Hubby and I agree... we'd stay... and some how rescue Us and Our dogs ~ Or only go with our dogs!
I can tell you one thing... after this... because we are moving closer to the sea.... not on the sea but closer.. we WILL be prepared... to rescue the entire family... from a boat.. to floatation devices... whatever~
I also learned NOT TO depend on anyone but yourself... when it comes to your own family being rescued.. human and animals!
ok ... OMG !! ... I just heard on the NEWS there may be
50,000 animals LEFT BEHIND!!!!!!!!!!
***Edited By: IVYdragonn on 9/9/2005 9:55:15 AM*** Reason: add
There's no way I would leave my dogs behind. They wouldn't be able to survive on their own. They depend on my family for everything.I couldn't bear the thought of what would be happening to them,like being alone , scared , starving , disease , a very slow death.Where there's a will there's a way , and leaving them behind is not a option.
"groups of two and three dogs roamed the streets scavenging for food and drinking dirty water that had collected curbside." I started to cry when i read that. The dogs dont realize how bad that water is. It breaks my heart. But i am glad there are people out there that care enough to save them. Oh man, i hope someone saves them!
thanks for the article mafia!!! it would be very very hard for me to leave my dogs but i do have to agree with shiny, i have a responsiblility to my human children first, dont get me wrong i would do everything in my power to save my animals but like shiny said "without me my human children have no mother" and 1 of my kids is only 9 mos old. it would be a gut wrenching and heart breaking thing to have to leave them behind but if worst came to worst i would have to think of my 2 legged critters first.
best of luck to all those who are left behind and i sincerly hope you find a way out with your animals!!!
again, GOD BLESS!, to all those affected by this mess