From The Los Angeles Times…
Animal advocates say many pet owners living in trailers and tight on
cash while they rebuild their flood-damaged homes opt to give up their
animals because they don’t have space or can no longer afford to keep
“So many people out there need help with their pets,” said Charlotte Bass Lilly, ARNO’s executive director.
Beaulieu estimated that the number of families surrendering their pets
to shelters had gone up between 45% and 60% since Katrina. ARNO was
founded shortly after the storm.
Laura K. Maloney, executive director of the Louisiana Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said that although some of the
animals being put up for adoption by her agency these days could be the
offspring of animals separated from their families since the storm,
most were pets that had been relinquished by their owners.
According to LA/SPCA statistics, about 259,400 families owned pets in
Orleans Parish before the storm. As many as 104,000 were left behind
after Katrina; about 15,000 were officially rescued. An estimated 3,000
have been reunited with their families, and at least 88,700 pets remain
unaccounted for, Maloney said. Thousands of the pets unaccounted for
are believed to have died, she added.(my emphasis)
ARNO and other animal advocacy groups believe many of the strays that
remain on the streets are “Katrina pets” and their fourth- or
fifth-generation offspring. And most have not been spayed or neutered.
With the population of New Orleans down to half its size, and thousands
of people across Louisiana living in cramped trailers, there are fewer
local takers for Katrina pets. So the group is working with partners
nationwide to find new homes for the animals.
“Katrina animal celebrity is a way to make people feel they are directly helping with Katrina,” Beaulieu said.
Before getting Willie B, I had found a kitty at the St. Bernard Parish Animal Shelter. But it didn’t work out as they were not able to get the kitty fixed in time for my departure. It wasn’t surprising given the constraints under which they were working.19 months after Katrina, or more correctly the federal flood, they still did not have electricity at the shelter. They were using a large metal cargo container like you see on ships in which to house the cages for cats and kittens.One would walk right into the cargo container to see the cats.They were indeed still struggling.
We then found Willie B. All I know of Willie B is that he was a stray. I suppose there is the possibility he could be the offspring of a “Katrina pet.” As for celebrity, we’re more interested in the YouTube variety than the Katrina one. Willie B has been such a wonderful gift to me that I didn’t really consider getting him as “directly helping with Katrina.” It was timing and somehow it just seemed right for me to have a NOLA kitty. To me he’s just my little New Orleans kitty. Oh and he’s not so little anymore. I think he’s going to be a halfback…