I have always loved dogs. I had a ‘Lassie-like’ collie when I was a little girl. My parents bred chihuahuas. My husband and I had mutts and purebreds; big and small. Eventually we ended up with four toy poodles. They all lived to old age and have crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
Like most of the world on August 29, 2005, I sat mesmerized by the pictures on television: the wind, the rain and the flooding of Katrina. When the first levee broke, I couldn’t imagine the horror. And when the CNN reporter flying overhead in a helicopter broke down reporting about the cries for ‘help’ my heart broke, along with everyone else.
That hurricane changed how the world understood the devastation that could occur when a major metropolitan coastal city was forced to evacuate.
As a dog person, hearing about the animals left behind broke my heart. The pictures were horrendous. Anderson Cooper, from CNN, did a number of segments on the pets left behind, running wild, hungry or dead.
Through it all, a courageous group of rescuers worked tirelessly to save these innocent victims of disaster. I found one group particularly impressive: Best Friends Animal Society, from Kanab Utah. They sent staff and organized volunteers; fundraised, treated and cared for animals of all sorts. All while trying to connect families with their pets. It was a massive undertaking and Best Friends was one of the most visible rescue organizations in New Orleans..
From my home in Calgary, there wasn’t much I could do other than the obvious – I took out a membership for Best Friends and the American Humane Society. I made a couple of small donations to help other organizations rescue the most vulnerable among us. I followed the stories on the internet. I laughed with the wins and cried with the losses. And through it all I learned every pet owner has to be prepared for this kind of situation.
I still follow Best Friends and pay attention to their amazing work. Thanks to them, many of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs were rescued. All of them have had training and socialization. A few have been adopted. All of them are better off.
They are regularly involved in puppy mill rescues, taking hundreds of dogs out of disgusting conditions with little or no human contact. (They even took some of the worst dogs from a puppy mill in Manitoba, a Canadian Province east of Calgary.) Best Friends take the sick, the lame and the unwanted to rehabilitate and train so these animals can enjoy a ‘forever family’
I have probably given the idea that Best Friends Animal Society is a dog sanctuary, but they actually take in many types of animals. Birds, horses, rabbits, goats, donkey, cats and dogs, and more I’m sure. They’re not the only organization who deserves recognition for the wonderful work they do with animals, but they’re one of a kind. Check them out at www.bestfriends.org
And because of their amazing work I made sure my next dog was a rescue. Both of them.
After a few years of being alone, I brought dogs back into my life – two of them.
Please meet my boy Jake and my little Lucy.
Both are spoiled rotten. Both are my best friends.
Please read the stories of the animals Best Friends have rescued and treated. Tell me what you think.