The images of stranded, desperate animals left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina catalyzed my sister and me to become involved in animal rescue. When Katrina struck, we were at Cape Fear, North Carolina enjoying a wonderful beach combing vacation. Relaxation gave way to horror at the sight of the devastation to the Gulf Coast. Returning home, Debbie answered an email pleading for drivers to take veterinary supplies to the Gulf and to return with homeless pets. Standing in the parking lot of the Pearl River SPCA, Debbie walked up with a little bag of bones disguised as a puppy. A dull coat and pot belly couldn’t hide the amazing optimism of the chocolate merle dog. So thin that his skin tented from his spine to his hip bones, he was one of the nine Catahoulah Leopard Dog mixes not chosen by other transporters. With supplies and man hours in short supply, the rule of triage dictated that the malnourished, ill litter would be euthanized. Determined shelter workers kept them alive and hoped for one last transport. We were it.
We drove two trips to Picuayne, Mississippi in the month after Katrina. Debbie arranged many more transports acting as a link between shelters in the Gulf and rescuers hoping to help. No words can describe the reality of the Gulf Coast in the weeks following the storm. No words can describe the dedication of the animal rescue people of the Gulf Coast during those times.
To this day, we treasure friendships forged in those days and we continue to work with homeless dogs. Unknown to us, that moment in the Pearl River parking lot launched our criteria for dogs coming into our care: homeless, unwanted by other rescues, and slated to die within hours. We became a Rescue of Last Resort.