Lessons From Katrina: Prepare Pets for Disaster
A Companion Animal Care Article from All-Creatures.org

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United Animal Nations

You may know that United Animal Nations (UAN) has been busy sheltering animals rescued from large cruelty and neglect situations like puppy mills – more than 1,500 animals during 12 cases in the last year alone.

But another key part of UAN’s mission is caring for animal victims of natural disasters. That mission was put to the test five years ago today, when Hurricane Katrina slammed ashore. UAN deployed 436 Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) volunteers to Louisiana and Mississippi to shelter and care for pets left behind or rescued after the storm. It was our largest and longest response ever.

One of the animals we sheltered was Wimpy, a black-and-tan mixed breed dog who was the faithful walking companion of New Orleans resident and heart transplant patient Joe Moses.


Joe and his wife Derene typify many people who lost their pets after the storm: They are loving and caring pet owners who simply were not prepared for a natural disaster. Thinking they would return home in a couple of days, they left Wimpy behind with food and water when they evacuated. But the catastrophic flooding prevented them from returning home for weeks. Derene says it’s a mistake they will never make again. “Wherever we go, Wimpy goes,” she told us.

Luckily, Wimpy was rescued from the Moses’ home after someone saw him scratching at the sliding glass door. He was brought to the UAN shelter for rescued Katrina animals, and reunited with the Moses six months after the storm. When Wimpy came home, Derene said, “This is the first time I’ve seen Joe smile since the hurricane.”

Will you help us honor the animal and human victims of Hurricane Katrina on this five-year anniversary? Here’s what you can do:

  • Make a donation to our Disaster Relief Fund so we have the resources necessary to care for animals like Wimpy when disaster strikes. Two months still remain in hurricane season, and peak fire season is underway in the Western United States.
  • Make a disaster plan that includes your pets. Read our Pet Disaster Preparedness tips for ideas on how to start.
  • Forward this message to other animal lovers and encourage them to take these lifesaving steps, too.

Thank you for caring about the animals.

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