Monday, October 10, 2005
7 News Features: Back To The Bayou Part 1: Animals
As the nation recovers from Katrina, more residents are coming home to repair, rebuild, and return to their roots. One of those people - Seven's Carmel Cafiero - who was born and raised in New Orleans - is going "Back to the Bayou" all this week for a series of special reports. Tonight, she shows us the effort to save thousands of pets left homeless and helpless.
WSVN--A month and a half since Katrina crashed into the Gulf Coast, rescuers are still finding pets that were left alone in their homes... Many now on the brink of starvation.
Willie Cirone: "He was tied to a file cabinet. Somehow the leash to tangled in the file cabinet. But he had a very short, short leash on by the time he got all wrapped around."
Other pets like Rommel and Bambi are being surrendered by owners who no longer have homes themselves.
Nefretti: "I feel awful that they were left in the house all that time, but we were expecting to be back home within two days of the storm. We weren't even sure if they were still alive or not - but they were."
For countless hurricane victims - the heartbreak just doesn't seem to end. They've lost everything...Including their pets.
Jeanette Chrisos: "Tri-County is a 100% no kill."
Jeanette Chrisos runs the Tri-County Humane Society in Palm Beach County. For the second time, it assembled a group of volunteers to travel to the Gulf Coast to pick up pets and bring them back to South Florida for adoption. First stop - Gulfport, Mississippi. The timing however couldn't be better for the Tri-County group.
Sgt. Charlie Daye: "They have a desperate need for somebody to take the cats and TriCounty Humane Society has offered to take some of those off their hands. Actually we're taking quite a few. It's OK baby, we'll get you taken care of."
Good hearted volunteers are all over the Gulf Coast. They tend to the animals during the day and sleep in their cars or tents at night. And it is the kindness of strangers that makes a new life possible for these confused - Injured - and frightened animals. They also offer an option for owners - pushed to their breaking point. Damion Straw - Tri-County's Chief Vet Tech saw that first hand.
Damion Straw: "These poor souls were surrendered today by a gentleman who wanted to kill them with a baseball bat. Time to go to your new home - are you ready?
Half of the Tri-County caravan headed home with the cats and kittens. For the rest of the volunteers - it was off to Louisiana.
Mark Martin: You can still hear some of them crying in the houses.
Mark Martin - from Georgia - set up a make shift shelter in a grocery store parking lot just outside New Orleans. Here the Tri-County team dropped off supplies for all kinds of pets. There were fish and chickens...A goat and even a pig. And again more volunteers tending to the traumatized. Many owners refused to evacuate because they could not take their pets.
Mark Martin: "I think they probably would have had 90 per cent less people trapped here if they could have taken their pets."
Last stop Gonzalez - north of New Orleans where a majority of the lost pets have been processed. Here the volunteers picked out dogs to bring back home.
Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero: "Because of the efforts of volunteers from South Florida and across the country - huge numbers of pets have been saved. But we'll never know just how many died all alone and terrified."
Clearly some of the saved pets are traumatized by their ordeal. But as the Tri-County trucks were loaded up for the 15 hour drive back home -- there was comfort for the weary rescuers in the knowledge that at the end of the road - a new life was waiting.
Vickie Berman: "This guy is a lucky guy to have us because he's going to have a good home in Boynton and his new name is Marly."
All thanks to the kindness of strangers.
Tomorrow night, Carmel is Back in the Bayou. She will share with us some personal observations on going back home. Plus she'll show us how the spirit of New Orleans is still burning brightly as locals work to bring the city back.
If you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE