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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bonding while watching documentary about fate of Katrina pets

I guess I'll take mother-daughter bonding where I can get it, and in this case, it was watching the Independent Lens PBS series about what happened to the pets caught in Hurricane Katrina 5 years ago. The documentary is called "Mine."

It was a story that was hard to watch, esp. since of course, all the news coverage was on the human beings' misery. But the animals suffered too. According to the film, produced by a New Orleans native, over 150,000 animals died in Katrina It didn't say how many pets were displaced or how many were returned.

Often the well-meaning owners were forced to close up their pets in their homes, put out a bag of food and a bucket of water, with the hopes the flooding wouldn't be too bad and they'd be back in a few days.

From the broader story of animal rescuers braving flooded streets, terrified cats and packs of now feral dogs, the story then focused on four owners who were searching for their lost dogs a year after Katrina (some still living in FEMA trailers).

It was interesting to see the social strata and racism come in to play, as some owners and rescue agencies simply didn't want to give the animals back, even if these pets were all the org. owners had left of their past lives. This was esp. true of one 90 year old man who lost his dog Bandit. It took the work of a selfless Canadian volunteer, a newspaper reporter and a threatened law suit to pry bandit out of his new owners home in Philly.

Some of the stories didn't end happily as one many searched for his dog for a year (his family was still in Houston at the time of the documentary) and the rescue worker simply refused to a. tell him were his dog was or b. how to contact the new owners.

When he did find out after hiring a pro bono lawyer, the family fled with the dog!

One woman adopted a rat terrier that was org. named Max. She said Max helped him get through her mother's death, but when Max's org. owner showed up, she didn't want to give him back. AT this point, Jennifer was yelling "bitch" at the screen.

But in a great piece of journalism, the videographer caught her on tape when she began to question her choice and change her mind. It was a wonderful piece of tape to witness. Eventually she gave Max back.

Some of the rescue workers told of finding many pit bulls who were obv. used in the fights ,and said they'd never return those dogs whether the owner showed up or not.

But the movie pointed out that many owners were forced to leave their animals behind, like it or not. One 70 year old lady was dragged off the roof of her house when the National Guard came to get her and forced her to leave a lab named Murphy Brown behind. She was eventually reunited with Murphy after a year (the foster fam. agreed to give him back) and Murphy was with her when she died a year later. She willed Murph back to the foster family (tearing up again as I'm writing this).

Both Jennifer and I were cussing and cheering at the TV until 11:30 pm last night. But it was worth it.

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