Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Carmel on the Case: Katrina Dog Gone
If you haven't made plans yet for your pets in the event of a hurricane, consider the sad story of a Louisiana woman. She lost her dog during hurricane Katrina, and then lost her will to live. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- The pictures from New Orleans are hard to forget. When hurricane Katrina blew through people and their pets suffered in too many ways to describe. Among them Fay Bourg.
Fay Bourg: "I have nothing. I have no car, no home."
Fay lived in St. Bernard Parish, just south of the city. It was hit so hard by the storm only six of 26,000 homes were livable.
Fay says the water was rising fast and the rain was falling hard when a rescuer put her and her dog Hunter in a boat, and then threw the dog out. She tried to go after him.
Fay Bourg: "I jumped and he grabbed me. My foot hit the water and he pulled me back in the boat, handcuffed me, and then we he turned around, so I started to jump again with the handcuffs on and he grabbed me and Hunter's still trying to get in the boat. He's trying to get in the boat."
Carmel Cafiero: "Fay, who had been hit in the head when the roof of her apartment caved in passed out. The last thing she saw was Hunter paddling behind the boat trying to keep up. When she came, she was in a Texas hospital. The chaplain there sent out an e-mail that Fay was looking for her dog. That started the hunt for Hunter."
And Fay, who had hearing problems did have hope she would get Hunter back. She called him her ears.
Fay Bourg: "If I can't hear something he hears it for me. Wherever I go he goes. I can't even talk about him."
After searching for more more than a year she believed she found him in California. A family there had adopted him and would not give him back.
Fay Bourg: I've been through a lot in my life and the dog's been there for me and he's part of my family."
Carmel Cafiero: "And how important is having him back to putting your life together?"
Fay Bourg: "Very important. I just feel like I'm so lost without him."
Another year passed after this interview, Fay still could not get Hunter back.
Fay committed suicide. Her sister is convinced the loss of her dog played a big role in Fay's decision to take an overdose of sleeping pills.
Janice Mc Loughlin: "I do."
Carmel Cafiero: "Because she was so unhappy?"
Janice Mc Loughlin: "And lonely."
Janice Mcloughlin talked with me by phone after finding this tape in her sister's belongings. It is Fay begging the California Humane Society that placed Hunter to please put her in touch with his new owners.
Humane Society: "The law says I can't give out that information. It's illegal for me to do that."
Humane Society: "Let's say I know where he's at. So what. I still can't go and get him."
The Tri County Humane Society from Boca Raton was one of many organizations that rescued Katrina pets and arranged for their adoption. In some cases it did return pets.
Jeannette Chrisos: "I've never heard of a law where the rightful owner could not get their dog back."
Jeannette Chrisos says it would be the right thing to do.
Jeannette Chrisos: "People have to understand these pets are like children to these people. This is all they have in life and this is all they have to live for, and when they lost their pet they just give up hope."
And that appears to be exactly what happened to Fay Bourg, a hurricane victim who gave up hope.
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