Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The last Katrina dog goes home

Getting Sammy home was a group effort and his story probably has as many perspectives as there were Good Samaritans. In fact, so many stepped up to help, that Sammy’s story can only be told by condensing it and necessarily leaving out many who helped selflessly, only wanting to save Sammy and help him to a home.
Let’s start by introducing Sammy, an 80 pound, 9 year old, heart worm positive purebred black lab who had the misfortune and the good fortune to be impounded by San Antonio Animal Care Services. (ACS) Misfortune to be impounded where 75% of the animals were killed last year, but good fortune to be noticed there by someone working with a local rescue.
See, Sammy couldn’t know it, but he carried a golden ticket under his skin – in the form of a pre-Katrinamicrochip. That chip, leading back to St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana was a clue that Sammy was part of the great diaspora of animals from the New Orleans area after Katrina. And it meant that a dedicated army of volunteers would try to see that he made a return trip.
That volunteer for a local rescue (SNIPSA) found out about the chip. She traced it back to the St. Bernard Parish Animal Shelter. They had records showing who had adopted a black lab named Sammy. Ironically these were records recovered from a previously submerged hard drive reconstructed a year after Katrina. At the time of the storm, the computer records and most of the paper records for the shelter were destroyed. So the chip could not have gotten Sammy home at the time of his rescue and evacuation - but now the information was available.
But if a search was to be made for Sammy’s family, who no longer were at their pre-Katrina address – then Sammy had to be alive to go home. The head of the rescue called the director of ACS and requested a hold be placed on the dog. A foster home was found in San Antonio. (Disclosure! It was my home.) ACS set Sammy safely aside, gave him his shots and waived the adoption fee.
So Sammy went to his temporary home while a search was conducted for Sammy’s pre-Katrina family and his post-Katrina San Antonio family. It is very hard to find a lost dog in San Antonio. Sammy had clearly been well cared for and loved, but the family never saw any of the many “FOUND: Strong Older Black Lab” notices online and elsewhere.
Amazingly, Sammy’s family from St. Bernard Parish was located. A volunteer who worked to locate families of found animals after Katrina, showed she had not lost her touch. Sammy’s family knew he was rescued, but they were unable to find him after the storm.
The perfect ending would be one last Katrina reunion, but as happened with about half of the families after Katrina – who lost their homes, their neighborhoods, and their jobs –their dog had a place in their hearts, but not their new home. In this case, the family had broken up and moved and moved again recently. An 80 pound lab was not a good fit, for them or for him.
Sammy was doing well in his San Antonio foster home. He had manners, except on a leash, which made him pull as if he were a sled dog! He was making the most at having more lives than a cat, but, he needed a foster who could hold his own on the other end of a leash. That foster now stepped up in Louisiana.
A friend, who helped after Katrina to reunite families and animals, now donated airfare to get Sammy to the new foster home. After Sammy deplaned in New Orleans, his new foster was breaking down the crate to put it in the trunk. Sammy, determined to stick with whoever had liberated him from that crate, hopped into the open trunk.
You can follow Sammy’s further adventures on the St. Bernard Parish Animal ShelterFaceBook page where he is interviewing applicants for a forever home. (Families with cats need not apply.)
This would be sufficient for a happy ending; but at the San Antonio airport cargo counter, the ex-Marine who handled animals for Continental, looked wistfully at Sammy. He said he would love a dog like that, but could not afford one. Well, he made that wish to the right person.
The next day he was offered two affordable and adoptable animals, a gorgeous purebred lab puppy at a no kill shelter and a nine month-old lab/Great Dane mix, described as goofy, with about 24 hours left at ACS.
Which would you take if you had dreamed of owning a purebred lab and were offered the puppy of your dreams? The lab mix has a new home. Semper Fi!
(Happy Birthday to all Marines and THANK YOU to all our veterans.)

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I welcome civil e-mails. If you have information on evacuations and animal rescue efforts during a disaster, e-mail marilyn@marilynlitt.com   You can also follow the National Disaster Animal News on Facebook,   Twitter, and Pinterest.