Seven years ago, one of the deadliest hurricanes swept the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, taking almost 2,000 lives and leaving millions of people helpless. Hurricane Katrina not only devastated the homes of humans, but also stranded more than 250,000 pets. Owners were forced to abandon their dogs, cats, horses, birds and more to seek safety. It became the largest animal rescue operation of all time. We're sharing some of the most heartwarming stories about our four-legged and feathered friends who were able to endure the disaster and survive Katrina.
JESSE AND J.J.
Jesse Pullins had to make one of the most difficult decisions in his entire life in August 2005. Hurricane Katrina chased him and his family out of New Orleans, and he had no other choice but to leave his dog, J.J., behind. Determined to find his dog again, Pullins searched high and low for J.J. After two years, he found out his dog was rescued, flown to California and adopted by two sisters. It would take two more years and a rigorous court battle, but Pullin's dream to get his dog back would come true. The Humane Society of California was able to reunite Pullins and J.J. Pullins could not have been happier. "J.J. is a part of me, a part of me that was missing for a long time," he said. (Today)
BOBBI AND BOB CAT
Bobbi the dog was left all alone to fend for herself when Hurricane Katrina hit her family's home. Chained on the porch with bowls of food and water, Bobbi had no where else to go. Bob Cat eventually made his way over to Bobbi and decided he was never going to leave her side. No one came to rescue the pair, so Bobbi managed to break free from her chain. Bobbi and Bob Cat wandered through the streets of New Orleans in hopes of finding some sort of shelter. Four months later, they were discovered by animal rescue volunteers. They learned that the two were inseparable and that Bob Cat was blind. Bobbi had served as his seeing-eye dog. They were sent to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and now live together happily with their new family in Oregon. Their moving tale has now been turned into a children's book called "Two Bobbies." (Global Animal)
MOLLY THE INCREDIBLE PONY
Molly the pony has gone through a lot in her life. It all began when she was abandoned by her owners when Katrina hit her home in Louisiana. Molly was found wandering the pasture in St. Charles Parish all by her lonesome. Kaye Harris, a farm owner, was alerted by an animal-rescue group. She brought the pony home to join her farm of other abandoned animals. One of the animals was an aggressive Pit Bull. This dog would later attack the innocent pony, rip her jaw off, leave a gash in her belly and bite all four of her legs. Harris was shocked and devastated, but could not euthanize the dog as she believed many of the animals were traumatized by the hurricane. Molly was rushed to the veterinary hospital and after some convincing on Harris's part, doctors performed surgery, giving Molly a prosthetic leg. Molly is now in great condition and visits the children at the prothesis center. (New York TImes)
ROXANNE AND KITTY
Kitty the cat was one of thousands of pets that were separated from their owners during Hurricane Katrina. Thanks to animal-rescue organizations, like 1-800-Save-A-Pet.com, many of these furry friends were able to be reunited with their owners, all of whom felt hopeless, thinking that they'd never see their beloved pets again. Roxanne Dorsey was one of those people. Dorsey had to move to Houston after her home was devastated in New Orleans. Dorsey was able to find Kitty at Bush Intercontinental airport in Texas, the site for many of these heartwarming reunions. (City of Houston)
KATRINA THE HERO DOG
Animals were not just being rescued; some of them were also doing the rescuing. Meet Katrina, the ironically named Labrador Retriever who saved a man's life in the rising flood waters. Although she was nearly drowning, Katrina held her head up high and tried to assist the helicopters and boats as much as she possibly could. Katrina was able to pull the man to higher ground and prevented him from drowning. She later was honored at the Genesis Awards in 2010, and was recognized for her brave heroism. She received a standing ovation.(Suite 101)
DONNA THE PARROT SAVIOR
When Hurricane Katrina began making its way toward New Orleans, Donna Powell promised to take care of her friend's birds at her home 80 miles north of the city. Oddly enough, Powell had just created 911 Parrot Alert, a service to help reunite people with their lost birds. She believed her home would be the perfect place to serve as a temporary shelter for birds. What started out as a few birds hanging out at her home turned into a full-fledged bird-rescue organization. By the end of August 2005, Powell's home became the busiest emergency parrot-rescue operation in history. Many people volunteered to help Powell, whose house was filled with donated bird food and cages. Many owners were able to reunite with their birds thanks to Powell's hospitality. (Parrot Chronicles)
BILL AND MISS KITTY
Bill Harris was trapped in his home for three days in Slidell, La. Harris found himself standing on a chair above rising floodwaters with his cat, Miss Kitty, in one of his arms. In the other was a two-way radio which he used to call for help. Harris would be rescued eventually and rushed to the hospital, but without his cat. Miss Kitty would not be abandoned for long, however. Noah's Wish volunteers were alerted of the situation and rushed to find her. After Harris underwent surgery, he described his cat's appearance and told them of her whereabouts. Several days later, they were able to trap a cat that matched his description. Almost a third of the 506 animals in the Slidell shelter were identified, thanks to hardworking volunteers.
The storm devastated farms off the Gulf Coast and killed millions of chickens. Luckily, Farm Sanctuary was able to rescue some, including 725 chickens from a farm in Tyson, Miss. A tornado caused by the hurricane destroyed one of its warehouses and damaged two others. The Farm Sanctuary crew worked tirelessly to pull trapped and injured chickens from the wreckage, and transported them to safety. Over 700 chickens arrived at Farm Sanctuary's New York shelter. The injured birds were rehabilitated, as many were malnourished and dehydrated. A year later, hundreds of the chickens were adopted into loving, permanent homes across the country. (Farm Sanctuary)
ANNE'S MISSION TO SAVE THE DOGS
For more than 10 years, Anne Gurchick has been involved in animal-rescue work. Even her battle with cancer could not stop her from helping the unfortunate animals in the Gulf Coast. Her doctors advised her that it was too soon after her cancer treatments to go to New Orleans, but Gurchick was determined to be a part of the rescue mission. "I couldn't bear seeing all the abandoned animals in the wake of the hurricane. The more I watched, the more I realized they obviously needed help and I wanted to be there, to help care for, comfort and/or rescue these dogs." Gurchick would later write a book about Katrina and the dogs that she helped save. She even took one home, named Stryder, who she claims adopted her. (The K9 Reporter)
Next: 12 Amazing Animal Stowaway Stories
Earlier this month, Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz lost his Maltese named Katrino. Katrino had been adopted in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Diaz, along with other officials, travelled to the scene to deliver supplies to the hurricane victims. While he was there, he found an extremely distressed dog in a pet-holding site. He could not leave her behind; he took Katrino home. She had three puppies: Cutie, Elvis and Whiney. They all survive Katrino today. Diaz sent out a press release that served as an obituary remembering the heroic, rescued Maltese. "Today my family is saddened by the loss of Katrino, but we will always cherish the wonderful memories of the seven years we spent together."