My name is John. I am a former resident of the now devastated
St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana and I am here to ask you to pass the Pet
Evacuation Bill so that when there is another disaster, our pets can
travel safely with us to designated shelters and not be left behind to
perish because of lack of proper emergency planning.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed Southeast Louisiana
turning St. Bernard Parish into a waterlogged marshland. A very large
percentage of our residents did not evacuate to shelters outside the
parish because we did not want to leave our pets behind and we were
told we could not evacuate with them.
To give you a brief background of my medical situation at the time, I
had just been released from the hospital and couldn't drive because of
my medical condition. The other occupant of my home, my elderly
father, is no longer licensed to drive. I had been disabled for three
months and was without the income to even fill my vehicle with
gasoline, let alone charter a vehicle to transport my family and pets.
Obviously, public transportation was not a pet-friendly option. Later
I came to find that although some generous gas companies were offering
free fuel, this was not widely known nor broadcast through the media.
This was simply not a known alternative that I was aware of. It seems
that this was yet another flaw of the emergency broadcast system.
My 2 and 1/2 year old black lab, Angel Girl, was a hero who saved the
lives of myself and my family. If she had not woken me from my sleep,
my family would've drowned. The water was over the roof when she led
us out the door.
After the levee breach, my father, sister and my nephew's girlfriend
were rescued from the roof of our home in Violet, LA by boat thanks to
brave St. Bernard residents who took us to the school evacuation
shelter at St. Bernard High School. My brother-in-law and nephew
stayed behind with four dogs and eight birds.
That Tuesday night, my brother-in-law, Gene, and his son, Robert
Christopher, along with our family's four dogs: Angel Girl, Bullet,
Daisy, and Honey were transported by boat to PGT Beauregard Middle
School. Gene saw other dogs and cats at that school and thought that
was where all the pets were being safely kept until the water went
down. The next day, Wednesday, St. Bernard Sheriffs Office Deputies
ordered everyone to leave the school. We were forbidden from taking
our pets with us. When we asked about our pets, a St. Bernard Sheriffs
Office Deputy assured us "your pets will be rescued." To ensure their
safety, I wrote a note on the wall of the school pleading for Angel's
safekeeping. I wrote "she is a good girl." Others wrote similar
messages, indicating our home addresses and contact information in the
hope that the Deputy's word would be kept and our pets would be
transported to animal rescue authorities.
One week after Hurricane Rita, my sister, Carol, her family, and I
were in a hotel after evacuating again due to Hurricane Rita. I
received a phone call from a dear friend that was searching for Angel
advising me to watch the CNN broadcast news that evening at 10:00 pm.
We turned on the TV and witnessed Anderson Cooper break the story
entitled "Dog Killings at Three St. Bernard Parish Schools." The first
room the camera crew entered and filmed was room 203 at PGT Beauregard
Middle School. What we observed was beyond devastating. They camera
followed as rescue teams opened the door, showing the first dog, my
sister's husky mix, Bullet. Bullet had not been rescued as promised.
Bullet was dead. In the next room, the camera showed my Angel Girl and
Honey, also shot to death.
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