Saturday, September 17, 2005


Why is it taking so long for authorities to rescue the animals left behind in the maelstrom that os the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans? Why are those poor creatures still left on porches, waiting patiently in empty houses, or even living on sidewalks and streets? It has been about three weeks since Katrina hit. They are still looking for people in those homes, and are collecting the bodies of people who have died. But, why should they just leave the dogs behind? They aren't dead yet, but they will be, if their rescue is not hastened.

And why add the corpses of thousands of starved or thirst-craved dogs to the poisonous concoction that is already gracing the streets of this city, adding to the health hazards?

The Humane Society has facilities set up in New Orleans, but there are so many orphaned pets that they cannot take care of them all. There is no room at the Inn for these frightened and often hungry animals. They are completely dependent upon humans for their care, and we must not fail them.

It seems strange to me that, in a country where every family has a dog or cat, and entire stores are devoted to animal lovers, there aren't enough kennels available for the stray animals in New Orleans. And, if it is true that there aren't enough kennels, how about someone concocting a few cages out of chicken wire, planks or any other material that can be flown in?

There is nothing more pathetic than the photos of those helpless animals. They do not understand what has happened to them. They only know that their owners, if they had owners, have deserted them. They only know that they are hungry, or thirsty or exhausted. Yet boats have passed them, unable to retrieve them. Helicopters have flown over, busy with the rescue of stranded people. But someone, somewhere, should take the time for those abandoned pets.

Perhaps I feel so strongly about it because of Jedi. Every day, she is my helper and my companion. I live in a world of semi-silence, and she is a link to the world of sound. Every one of those dogs stranded in New Orleans has gifts as yet not understood by scientists. Tests have even proven that, many times, a dog knows you are going to get sick before you do. It is suspected that they can even detect cancer. Training now is taking place to help with Dogs for Epilepsy Patients and other disorders. Just as Jedi knows I cannot hear that Alarm Clock, some dogs can tell when a seizure is near.

They will play with you when you are happy, comfort you when you are sad, and avoid you when you are only makes sense that, if they can read emotions, they can sense the status of your health and wellbeing.

Not long ago, PAWS trained a dog named Ginger. Ginger's mistress was wheelchair bound. When a fire broke out in their home in the dark of night, Ginger alerted and saved the lives of both her mistress and the husband. Sadly, Ginger died from smoke inhalation despite efforts to save her. But this is just one example of the loyalty and love dogs are capable of giving.

In return for food, water and kindness, a dog will serve you. He will even die for you. His loyalty knows no bounds. Years ago, I did a story on the Bloomfield Township Canine Corps, here in Michigan. Those beautiful, specially-bred German Shepherds were as gentle as lambs until given a command by their masters. Then, it was a snarling, frightening sight to behold. Those dogs could hold a crowd at bay, grab the arm of a criminal holding a gun, and jump through car windows to attack escapees.

Yet a baby could crawl around on the back of one of those dogs and yank its fur, and the animal would not move a muscle.

Ask any policeman with a dog, these animals are miracle workers. Take your dog to a nursing home and watch what happens. The eyes of the elderly light up like candles and the dog ALWAYS senses that he must be gentle. There is instant rapport and this bond enhances and perhaps even lengthens the lives of the old and infirm!

Yet hordes of these marvelous helpmates and soulmates are still stranded on the streets of New Orleans. We can donate to the Humane Society, but we must also remind our politicians that the unnecessary death of any dog weeks after a calamity is inexcusable. Let's get enough people in there to do the necessary tasks! Let's get those animals rescued, feed their hunger, assuage their thirst and realize their worth!