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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Big Hearts in Oklahoma...

Big Hearts Live in Oklahoma …


Americans are generous people. They give their time, their money, their physical strength, and their love.

But how many of us can say that we are able to give away our hearts.


Who has ever asked you to give something that was dear and precious to you?

How would you respond to such a request?



What if you took a pet into your home and cared for it, took it to the veterinarian, paid its bills, loved it, and treated it as one of your own for two years.

What if you believed that it was your pet, forever?

How much of your heart would be invested in your pet?



What if someone came to you and said, “We have found the original owner of your little dog…

And she wants it back.”

Could any one of us give away a pet that we dearly loved?


How big is your heart?


This scenario is real.

The people are real…

The dog is real…

And so are the emotions.


Get your favorite beverage…

Grab some tissues.

I have an unbelievable story to tell…


When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States, there was utter devastation. Families' lives were literally uprooted. Many were separated from each other. Not only were the lives of the people in total disarray, chaos, and anguish, but there were thousands of animals who were in great need as well. From people, to wildlife, to farm animals, to household pets, it seems that not one living being was left unaffected by Hurricane Katrina.

So great was the destruction that separation from family and friends lasted for months. Communications were non-existent. Thousands of people had lost everything, including their pets. Several animal rescue teams were formed and spread themselves along the devastated coast in order to provide support for the animals in desperate need of rescue, medical care, and eventually reunification with their owners.

In August of 2005, our hospital had two of our staff members at Neel Veterinary Hospital volunteer to help in one of the greatest natural disasters that our country has ever seen. Dr. Chris Logan and one of our veterinary technicians, Nadia Rizzo, went to care for pets that were separated from their owners and help relieve the widespread suffering of the animals that were caught in the storm. They joined forces with United Animal Nations (UAN) Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS), and with a trailer of donated veterinary medical supplies and other much needed items, they arrived in Louisiana soon after the hurricane had struck.

If you would like to read an eyewitness account of where they were and what this team encountered, you can go HERE.

Many of the animals that were rescued did not have any identification on them. No collars, no tags, no microchips. There were so many animals without a place to go that volunteers took many of them back to their home states. Our team brought several dogs back to Oklahoma. Photographs of all of the pets were taken and posted on the internet. Soon networks of people were diligently trying to reunify families with their lost pets.


Louie72
Originally uploaded by gteans



That has been almost two years ago.

Most of us have forgotten about Hurricane Katrina. Two years is a long time for most folks. Time passes. Memories fade.

Unless…

You were someone who was directly affected by the storm.

Yes…

There are people still living in FEMA trailers.


People like Betty.

Betty


There are people who are still trying to rebuild their lives, nearly two years after the monstrous storm.


Betty lost many things because of Hurricane Katrina. She also lost her little dog, Howie. Betty moved back to New Orleans in hopes of finding her small companion.

Eileen lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She is a volunteer with Best Friends Remote Reunion who tirelessly works to reunite Hurricane Katrina victims with their pets. Eileen posted the pictures that Betty had of Howie on the
Petfinders’ website in September of 2006. Eileen and Betty were hoping that someone would recognize him so that he could be returned home to her in New Orleans.



PetFinders’ Poster

One day a woman from Belgium named Ingrid saw Howie’s picture on the PetFinders website. She thought that he looked awfully familiar to a picture of a rescued Louisiana dog that she had seen before on the EARS website. Ingrid e-mailed Eileen and told her that she believed she had found a link.

But where was the dog from the EARS website now?

Nobody knew.

For the next seven months Eileen made telephone calls, sent e-mails, and questioned people who were involved in the rescue efforts after the hurricane of 2005. She was able to locate the photographer who took the picture of Howie and finally…

A link was made to the triage center in Monroe, Louisiana, and its team of volunteers.

But who were they?

Where were they from?

Due to the undying investigative efforts of Eileen, she ran across Dr. Logan’s name in the eye-witness article written by Molly Gibbs. An internet search and finally… she had a direct link to Howie.

In May of this year Dr. Logan received an e-mail from Eileen asking for help in locating and positively identifying Howie.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

In October of 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina had destroyed so many homes and lives, Patti Landers was at her veterinarian’s office in Norman, Oklahoma. She had her dog “Elway”, a 115 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback, with her. While she was at the Main Street Veterinary Hospital she saw a veterinary technician playing with a little dog. The technician was Ashley, who had gone with the Oklahoma team to Louisiana as a volunteer. Ashley had brought the homeless dog back with her to Oklahoma and had renamed him Louie. Louie was one of several Louisianan dogs that had made the trip to Oklahoma in hopes of finding a new home.

Ms. Landers asked Ashley about the little dog. Ashley told her about Louie’s plight. How he needed a real home to stay in, because he had already spent many weeks in a crate at the Main Street Veterinary Hospital in Norman, Oklahoma.

Would Ms. Lander’s keep him for “two weeks only”?


It was an impulse.

It was a commitment.

It was love.


Louie wasn’t too demanding of a dog.

Although when Patti had bought him and Elway nice new beds, he insisted on having Elway’s bed. Elway’s bed was much bigger than his bed, and Louie wanted a big bed too.

So the Landers bought Louie a bed just like Elway’s.


Rather timid at first, especially with Mr. Landers, Louie also became a very good watchdog.


And Louie helped Elway overcome his fear of thunderstorms too.


How do the Landers feel about Louie?

Patti says, “We just love him.”

Empty nesters, the Landers are very attached to the little guy. Their only grandchild is a rescued “grand-dog”.

When asked about sending “Louie” to New Orleans to be “Howie” once again, Patti simply responds.


How could they not give him back to Betty?


The Landers’ love of the dog is overshadowed by their love for their fellow man.

Louie/Howie in his Norman, Oklahoma, home.



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


This story isn’t over yet.

Betty is financially and physically unable to make the trip to Oklahoma to positively identify Howie. Funds are needed and many coordination and travel arrangements are yet to be made and finalized.

Dr. Logan has contacted Continental Airlines in hopes that they would be kind enough to donate round trip airfare for Betty’s daughter to come to Oklahoma. And hopefully return with Howie.

But we haven’t heard anything from them yet.

We were also hoping that a local television station would pick up the story and help us find some generous benefactors to help with the expenses.

Even Eileen has offered to make the trip with her own funds.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we could help Eileen instead?

She’s already done so much and has invested almost a year of her time and funds in this magnificent adventure.

If you are interested in helping with this endeavor…

Or you know of someone who would be willing to reunite Betty with her dog Howie…

Please contact us at 405.947.8387.

You can leave your contact information for Dr. Logan and he will be more than happy to get back with you.


We would really like to have Betty and Howie reunited as soon as possible.


**UPDATE** 01July2007

Dr. Logan has informed me that everything has gone well at the airport this morning.

It ended up that none of Howie's family members could make the flight. Eileen, who lives in Greenbay, Wisconsin, flew in to New Orleans and then to Oklahoma City where she then picked up Howie. It is hoped that she made the connecting flight in Houston at 1pm and will be in New Orleans by 5pm this evening.

After such a long journey in time as well as distance, Howie will finally be home.

Best Wishes to Howie, Betty, and Eileen...

And God Bless You All.


**UPDATE** 29June2007

The Channel 9 reporter and cameraman came to the hospital this morning. Both Mr. and Mrs. Landers came as well and they brought "Howie" with them. They surrendered Howie to Dr. Logan.

I have gotten to meet Howie and he is a very sweet little dog.


**UPDATE***

Dr. Logan and Eileen are going to share the costs in flying Betty's daughter to Oklahoma City and then back to New Orleans with Howie.

Channel 9 is going to cover the story as well, tomorrow, Friday, 28June2007.

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10 Comments:

Blogger Shelly said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 27, 2007 7:59 AM  
Blogger Dreaming again said...

Many people were not AT their houses when they were evacuated out, they were not allowed back into their neighborhoods to get their belongings, including animals, before evacuated out.

Many were come by and taken, and not allowed to take animals with them on whatever busses took them out of the city.

Many thought they'd just be evacuated over night, not understanding the full impact of what was happening.

Very very few of those who lost their homes and belongings would be able to afford the chip implant program (I know I would not) that you speak of, so that is out of the question for most of that community. Even if it had crossed their minds as a might need be before the hurricane.

MOST of the animals who were lost, were lost because they had no opportunity to take them with them, OR the animal got away from them in the evacuation process or in the hurricane itself (on those who stayed and were rescued from the tops of buildings etc).

When someone lost everything they knew ...absolutely everything in life changed ... and another person has an opportunity has a chance to give back a small portion of love ... a slight portion of life the way it was ..what a beautiful gift! What an incredible heart!

I know I've often thought about the animal foster program. Especially durning the Hurricane Katrina sitation. This, would be my ideal ... to see it really work. To give this woman back a bit of her old normal after she's adjusted to a new version of normal.

What a beautiful heart.

June 27, 2007 8:53 AM  
Anonymous wolfbaby said...

how amazing people can be.

June 27, 2007 9:46 AM  
Blogger It's me, T.J. said...

Hey Shelly...

I understand where you're coming from, and I know that you would be determined to keep your dogs with you no matter what.

But if the law comes and tells you that you can't take your animals, I suppose you are then faced with a decision that would affect the rest of your life.

I'm sure that a mandatory evacuation would give quite a bit of authority to those who are implementing it.

However, I believe that Betty was part of the group of people who had to go to the coliseum.

Our rescue team was at the triage center that had originally been set up to "board" the animals of the people who were being evacuated. "No animals allowed" for the evacuees. The triage center basically consisted of awnings and hundreds of crates. They had the tents divided into "blocks". No air conditioning in that thick Gulf Coast August heat.

Louie/Howie came in with a group of animals via an Arkansas animal rescue team who had been boating in the flood waters picking up stranded animals from porches, roofs, etc.

I haven't gotten to speak with Betty personally. So I don't know exactly how she came to be separated from her dog.

However, I do know and recognize that feeling of utter loss, and the tendency to cling to whatever of your belongings, and dignity, that you may have left.

There's a part of you that wants things to be the way they were. And every human tries to rebuild that history in their own way.

If I were in Betty's situation, maybe I would let the dog stay where he was. He's happy and healthy.

But then again, maybe I couldn't. I suppose it would depend on my emotional state, and how well I was coping with my situation.


Hey Peggikaye...

Over the last ten years or so, the disaster animal rescue organizations have really grown into a well organized group of volunteers.

It's amazing to say the least.


Hey Wolfbaby...

Yes... What would we do without them?


later...

June 27, 2007 11:55 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

God bless your big, big heart! People like you help make the world a better place. ;p

June 30, 2007 4:46 AM  
Anonymous moof said...

TJ ... that was heartwarming, and amazing. As I was reading it, I kept looking over at my now elderly little beagle, knowing that I would never just be able to walk off and leave her to fend for herself in a disaster ...

... but then again, it's hard to foretell what sort of circumstances you'll be facing. I'm sure that those who did have do so were in agony over it.

Thanks TJ ... for sharing all of this with us.

June 30, 2007 6:05 AM  
Blogger kate said...

What a great stopy, but my heart bleeds for the volunteers who lost their little friend! Interesting how far reaching the hurricane really was. Not only in distance, but it time too! Thanks for sharing the story!

July 01, 2007 4:37 AM  
Anonymous Paul L. McCord Jr. said...

That is an unbelievable story. I can't imagine leaving my pets behind but I don't think they had a choice. If you forced your way in, you might get arrested and still not get your pets. Thanks for sharing this amazing story. That is very generous.

July 07, 2007 6:11 AM  
Anonymous LKP2005 said...

Two videos worth watching:

Mine: Taken by Katrina

and

Lost Katrina Pets

July 27, 2007 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your blog it has a lot of good information

God bless
www.mydoggilicious.com

August 14, 2007 6:01 AM  

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