Katrina Animal Rescue Custody Dispute

The Washington Post (WP) is featuring a story called “Fangs Are Bared Over MD. Group’s Katrina Dog Rescues”. This story comes in light of the collaborative effort between IFAW, the SPCA and other groups who are partnering to alleviate pet overpopulation in the south. IFAW has had a successful working relationship with the SPCA and holds them in high regard. For this reason, I’m interested to hear public opinion in response to the WP’s article.

The question now, months after Katrina, months after thousands of people roamed homeless in the streets, is: do they have the right to claim their animals that were separated from them in the hurricane?

In short, this is the situation: Following Hurricane Katrina many dogs were rescued, treated, and identified if possible. Those that could not be identified were sent to shelters outside Louisiana and Mississippi, shelters that were momentarily not being flooded with abandoned dogs and cats. The SPCA played a major role in this. Shelters then fostered out the animals. Additionally, the SPCA asked shelters to have foster owners sign an agreement whereby if the rightful owner did not claim their animal by Nov. 1st (according to the WP), they would then have the chance to officially adopt the animal.

Many pets were left abandoned and were thankfully rescued by organizations like IFAW and the SPCA. However, there are often heartbreaking stories behind the abandonment, making it unfair to assume that just because someone hasn’t ‘claimed’ their animal, they don’t wish to locate it.

Furthermore, what is the story behind the foster family?  Why are they so content on keeping the animals and not making any contact what-so-ever with the previous owners?  I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

Comments: 14

11 years ago

Although I can understand people feeling like folks "abandoned" their pets, many people stayed through the storm with their pets but when they attempted to get to shelter, were not allowed to take them. I live in Florida and go through hurricane season every year, and I have 6 pets who I would never leave, but if for some reason something happened and we were separated, it would mean the world to me to get them back. My pets are my babies, they are family, and how can you compare the years an original owner has had with a beloved pet to the few months an adoptive foster parent has spent?
Also consider the anguish most of the people went through last hurricane season...some have nothing else left. If it were me, I would want nothing more than to return the pet to the original owner. I agree that if they weren't taking proper care of the pet, that's a different story. But if they did take good care, they deserve to have them back. I honestly can't believe people would be so selfish not to want to give someone who suffered so much through last year's season, or any hardship like that, a little bit of joy back into their life.

11 years ago

Twice in Florida I was told that I neded to evacuate my home because of an approaching severe hurricane ... and twice I refused to leave my 2 dogs behind to fend for themselves. I look at my friends as part of my family and I refused to abandon them. Would you abandon a child? Well this is how I look at thing also.
If the pets were lucky enough to find new homes...good for them. Maybe the new guardians will not abandon them "if" an hurricane treaten their area.

11 years ago

I must say I can see both sides of this issue. We must not take sides either, since the lady lost her pets due to laws that do not include our beloved family pets, and we must not put down those willing to adopt pets from tramatic events.
This case is tough, the women deserves to have her dogs back, the adopters deserve to keep them.
I wish people could be more unselfish and not decide what they want but decide what is best for the two dogs.
I know I would want my pets if they survived, I know I would want to keep my adoptees after a tireless search for the owners was fruitless.
So, in this case I would ask the owner and the adopters to put aside their own desires and weigh out what is best for the dogs, put aside their anger, put aside their feelings and understand this is nobodies fault, not any of their fault anyway.
This is a sad tragedy due to laws and disaster plans not including our pets that are like our family members. We must be mindful that both parties are suffering for something not of their doing.
I know if this women lost everything and the dogs are all that is left, they mean the world to get them back. I am sure the adopters made strong bonds once they thought the owner would never come forward.This hurts both sides.
So, we must be mindful not to be mean to either side, they hurt enough.
So in a case such as this, the only way to decide it would be to decide for the best interest of the dogs, unfortunately, pets have no legal rights to such treatment.
So the two sides should take a step back, find some common ground and talk it over, but making sure they both are mindful that neither has done something wrong, and make sure both know they both hurt and how can they work it out.

11 years ago

So many people evacuated themselves, but left their pets behind. Some who went to shelters had little choice, but many left the animals behind to fend for themselves, or starve to death.
My neighborhood is upper middle class, people had choices and options, and still left the pets behing.
In the case being written about it is clear the original owner did not meet the animals health care needs, whether it was heart worm treatment, surgery, or evacuation provisions.
How can you release animals back into the care of insufficient care?
She made love them emotionally, but must also be able to provide practical care.

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