It’s been 16 long months now since Hurricane Katrina first wreaked its havoc on hundreds of miles of America’s Gulf Coast.  And who can ever forget the horrific images of this massive deadly storm that we all saw on our television screens in August 2005.

Help is Still Needed

Both human beings and their pets desperately swimming for their lives; being stranded on rooftops; clinging to trees; being swept away into the sea; being trapped in flooded areas with no food or water  – being ‘left behind’ to somehow fend for themselves – for far too long.

When our government was far too slow in responding to this massive tragedy, dozens of national rescue organizations and thousands of compassionate volunteers quickly sprang into action - from all parts of the world - to rush aid and relief to both these human and these nonhuman victims of one of the worst disasters in American history.

And, thousands of American citizens quickly opened their hearts and their homes and their checkbooks to assist in these massive rescue and re-location efforts.

And thanks to the compassion and generosity of America’s citizens, thousands of people from the devastated Gulf Coast were eventually rescued and re-located to safe havens all across the country; and thousands of their left behind animals were eventually rescued, cared for, re-united with their owners, re-located to animal shelters all across the U.S., and adopted out to new loving homes as well.

By January of 2006, five months after the storm, most believed that the worst of Hurricane Katrina was finally over.  There was now great hope that the once great city of New Orleans, and the rest of the devastated Gulf Coast, would now quickly rise from the muddy rubble, and that life on the Gulf Coast would now quickly move on and return to normal.

Most now believed that the residents of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast would now flock back to their homes, and very quickly re-build both their lives and their devastated cities.

Most also believed that the majority of left behind pets had finally been rescued, and that quickly endorsed national legislation would ensure that in any future disasters, our beloved pets would never be left behind again.

By January of 2006, the national media, most of the national rescue organizations, and the hearts and minds of most Americans, now moved on to other news stories, and to other devastating disasters happening all around the globe.

But the very sad reality is that not very much has changed in the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina – sixteen months after it first roared ashore.

Much of the destroyed infrastructure on the Gulf Coast has still not been restored; entire areas are still uninhabitable without electrical power or fresh water; and the vast majority of people who lost everything in Katrina are still living in government provided trailers on the Gulf Coast, or they have completely abandoned all hope of ever re-building their Gulf Coast homes, and are now building new lives – in new cities and towns all across America.

And very sadly, many of these former Gulf Coast residents who desperately spent months trying to find their lost, left behind pets after Hurricane Katrina, are now finding themselves having to once again give up their beloved re-united pets because life in a tiny cramped FEMA trailer or in a new apartment building in a distant city doesn’t readily lend itself to keeping them.

And what of the thousands of dogs and cats that remained traumatized and in hiding after Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast that were never rescued?

The very sad reality is that most of these left behind pets were never spayed or neutered prior to Hurricane Katrina, and now, sixteen long months later, they and their countless offspring are still wandering aimlessly through completely devastated and abandoned areas of the Gulf Coast – and they are still desperately searching for food and water to survive yet one more day.

And, very sadly, sixteen months after Katrina, life for these now feral dogs and cats and their countless offspring, is still extremely cruel.

They are chased, poisoned, and shot at; they are callously run down in the streets; they are trapped and whisked off to death chambers in local animal pounds; and their only available shelter in abandoned buildings and homes all along the Gulf Coast is slowly being bull-dozed and leveled all around them.

But thankfully, a few animal rescue organizations, and a few extremely caring individuals, have not given up on them – sixteen long grueling months after Hurricane Katrina first arrived.

These groups and individuals are still very compassionately spending their time and their money manning and filling food and water stations for these animals all along the Gulf Coast; and they are still humanely trapping these now feral dogs and cats; still desperately trying to spay and neuter as many of them as they possibly can; and still very compassionately attempting to find new homes for as many of them as possible.

Without these few remaining dedicated animal rescue groups and extremely dedicated and compassionate individuals – there would be no hope at all for these thousands of pathetic, starving, free roaming, abandoned ‘left behind’ dogs and cats and their now countless offspring.

Did the national media forget about our devastated Gulf Coast and the plight of its homeless residents far too soon?  Did our government?  Did most of the national rescue organizations give up on all of these left behind animals far too soon?  Did most of we rescue volunteers leave the Gulf Coast too soon?  Did most of we Americans close our hearts and our checkbooks much too soon?

I believe the answer to all of these questions is - Yes.  But there is still time for all of us to help them, if we choose to do so.

Organizations like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity are still helping Katrina’s human victims, and they can always use more donations and more volunteers.

And a few animal rescue organizations are still valiantly operating on the Gulf Coast; and they are still in dire need of funds and food and volunteers to enable them to continue in their compassionate efforts to save as many of these animals as possible.

Two of the animal rescue organizations that I am familiar with are Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) and PAWS Chicago.  I’m sure there are others, but I’d like to highlight what these two dedicated groups are still doing today, and how we can all help them in their extremely compassionate efforts on behalf of Gulf Coast pets.


A Plea from ARNO

Dear Friends,

The animal crisis in New Orleans still exists today, sixteen months after Hurricane Katrina.
And Animal Rescue New Orleans, (ARNO), is still trying to feed thousands of animals left behind on the streets.  These animals are forgotten, but not gone. 


Volunteers today still fill the numerous food and water stations that make it possible for these dogs and cats to continue to survive.  And many of these animals were once loved pets that now live in constant danger of starvation, attacks by other animals, and illness.

The devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina continues today for miles and miles along the devastated Gulf Coast, and there are still thousands of hungry, homeless, injured animals in grave need.  New Orleans residents are still trying to rebuild their homes and their lives, and in some of the hardest hit areas, less than 10 percent of the residents have returned.

ARNO desperately needs your help.  Please look at the requests below, and if you are able to offer ANY assistance at all, your help will be GREATLY appreciated:

Housing and Transportation

ARNO needs to get the trapped animals adopted and/or transported out of the area, so that we can trap more.  There are hundreds of cats and kittens at ARNO today.  If you are a no-kill shelter and have a little room, please help us.

Once no-kill shelters agree to assist us, the animals need to be transported to these facilities.  Currently, ARNO is having difficulty finding transport for rescued animals that some shelters are willing to receive.  If you can assist with transporting animals, or know others who can, please contact Robin at: or Phone Number: (504) 912-2328.

 Food and Donations


ARNO still depends on charitable contributions to enable us to provide dog and cat food for more than 3,000 animal feeding stations in the devastated New Orleans area alone.   However, the food donations are rapidly diminishing.   There is a desperate need for dry cat food.  If you can donate cat food or money, please visit this ARNO web page:


Pet Food Companies

 If you would be willing to contact pet food companies in your area to request donations to ARNO, please contact Charlotte at ARNO:, phone - (504) 522-0222.


  -ARNO is still desperately in need of more volunteers for animal feeding, caring, and trapping.  We welcome both Gulf Coast residents, and out of staters.  If you can volunteer any time at all to help us, please visit the website listed above.


A small group of reunion volunteers is currently assisting ARNO feeders and trappers in the Lakeview section of New Orleans.  Using photos/descriptions of many of the roughly 200 pets still roaming in this area alone, the reunion volunteers are trying to match the pets with Lakeview owners still desperately missing their cats and dogs.  

Sixteen months after Hurricane Katrina, pet/owner reunion work continues and reunions are still happening!  

If you would like to assist with this work, please contact Valerie Sharma at or Eileen Shellman at  

ARNO is still working extremely hard to eventually end this ongoing animal crisis through fosters, adoptions, and a spay/neuter program.  In the meantime, whatever you can offer will be gratefully accepted on behalf of the many homeless animals that are still extremely vulnerable, and that are still in desperate need of help day after day.  

Please help ARNO to help these pets, who have now struggled far too long.  

Thank you for all that you have already done for our Gulf Coast animals, and thank you in advance for any aid that you can now offer.  

With heartfelt gratitude,

ARNO Volunteers  

 (If you can help in any way, please respond directly to ARNO, using the contact website and telephone information provided above.)  

PAWS Chicago  

Waveland, Mississippi, a 45 minute drive from New Orleans, was also completely devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and many of its animals quickly drowned at its flooded local animal shelter.  

Waveland City Clerk Robin Gavagnie commented:  “Before the storm, we had a bad animal problem, but after the storm, it got much worse.”  

Waveland had been killing approximately 75 percent of its unwanted animals, but since Katrina, the number is much closer to 99 percent.  

With half the human population leaving the area before the storm, and many of those remaining still living in FEMA trailers, there is still tremendous need in the area.  

According to the City Clerk, “The whole town lost its infrastructure.  We’ve still got to redo water, gas, and sewer.”  

And as a result, there are very few animal adoptions occurring, so the many homeless left behind Katrina pets in Waveland had very little chance of continued survival unless a rescue organization once again stepped forward.  

And, thankfully, PAWS Chicago did just that.  

“The devastation in this part of the Gulf Coast is tragic," said PAWS Chicago founder  Paula Fasseas, who took part in a recent rescue trip to Waveland.  

"People in this community lost everything -- their homes, their cars, and their lives as they knew them. In these dire circumstances, pets are being surrendered to the local shelter and abandoned on the streets. There are absolutely no adoption possibilities for these helpless creatures in Hancock County, so we’ve brought many of them back to Chicago to save their lives."

Over 200 homeless dogs and cats from Waveland, Mississippi were soon transported to PAWS Chicago, where they are being cared for, and where they are being adopted out to new loving homes.  

But with so much pet overpopulation today – all across the United States – PAWS Chicago soon began worrying that transporting more and more of these animals from the South would mean more death for the many homeless dogs and cats in the Chicagoland area and in other parts of the country.  

So, they soon came up with another idea to help the left behind pets of Waveland, Mississippi.   

Seventeen of their volunteers traveled back to Waveland this past September offering free spay/neuter services to any and all pets of any and all residents of Hancock County, one of the three devastated Gulf Coast counties in Mississippi.  

And the local response was tremendous.  

Soon, 280 pets were spayed or neutered, and more than 500 animals remained on a rapidly expanding waiting list.  

PAWS Chicago now plans to continue its spay/neuter efforts in Waveland, and in surrounding Hancock County, and now plans even more large spay/neuter clinics three to four times a year.  

And with sustained effort by local veterinarians, it is now hoped that the vast overpopulation of dogs and cats in this area can be greatly reduced, and eventually, eliminated.  

To learn how you can assist in this ongoing effort to help Katrina’s pet victims in Mississippi, please visit the PAWS website at:  

Or you can mail a monetary contribution to:  

PAWS Chicago

Mississippi Fund

1110 W. 35th Street

Chicago, IL 60609  

These are just two of the animal organizations that are still valiantly trying to assist Katrina’s animal victims, and I am sure there are more of them out there that still need our assistance.  

There are also numerous animal shelters and humane societies spread all across America that are still housing many of these rescued Katrina pets – sixteen long months after the fact.  

And these rescued Katrina animals truly yearn for another loving home, and a return to some sort of normalcy in their lives – something that was so quickly taken away from them – sixteen long months ago – when a life disrupting monster known as Hurricane Katrina – horribly changed their lives forever.  

Please consider helping the two animal organizations listed above, and/or please contact animal shelters and humane societies in your local area to find out if they still have any ongoing Katrina pet rescue operations in place, and to find out if they still have any left behind dogs and cats in their care – left behind dogs and cats that are still desperately yearning for a new home.


A Morning Kiss

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long white whiskers tickled, I began every day laughing.

Janet F Faure

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