Where is Hunter?
Readers: It has been a busy Fall for me and you see that my posts have fallen off. Please keep checking back as I will be updating the blog more often after the first of the year. If you have or have not been here you can spend hours on the blog recounting the first days of Katrina (by scrolling all the way to the bottom). It reads in almost "book like" fashion by starting with the very first post. You can watch the videos on the right side of the blog, and many within the text of the blog.
Here is the recent and shameful story of Hunter and peoples hinderance of his return to his owner. Hunter is a service dog. Folks, until you have seen it first hand you simply can't understand what it was like to have 15-25 ft of water quickly flood your home. The only mistake these animals owners made was not leaving, and I have made far greater mistakes than that in my life and so has everyone who is holding these dogs up from their owners. I do not believe every dog needs to go home here two years past Katrina. But read this story and you will understand why I think this one does. Any authority with an ounce of compassion would have helped this person get out of St. Bernard Parish with her dog. They are lucky it is not my dog.
Kristin M. Thomas
Capital City Free Press www.capcityfreepress.com
When Hurricane Katrina struck St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana, Fay was stranded at home. She had no transportation and parish officials did not provide evacuation services for her and Hunter, even though she is disabled and he is her service dog. Hunter had identification tags on his collar and was implanted with a microchip, as is the standard practice for all registered aid dogs.
Fay and Hunter survived the hurricane and flooded nightmarish aftermath in their apartment with no assistance from the local government. It was only after a concerned neighbor called parish authorities from his cell phone did help finally come for her. Rescue and relief was what these authorities were supposed to bring with them but in reality they only brought her brutality and heartache.
Instead of being Fay's saviors these men, who showed no identification, told her she could not take her service dog with her. When she refused to leave without Hunter, they forcibly dragged her from her residence. Fay had already put Hunter on his leash in preparation for transportation to safety and had securely wrapped the other end of the leash around her arm. Once in the boat and nearing Beauregard school, the "rescuers" unhooked Hunter from his leash and dumped him off at the steps. Hunter, wanting to protect his charge, tried to jump back into the boat while Fay was trying to escape from her captors and save the dog that had been more than just a friend to her.
These men proceeded to brutalize this disabled woman by handcuffing her and then pinning her to the bottom of the boat by her chest. All the while, Hunter who was dedicated to his master, swam after the boat in an effort to accompany his charge, but every time he approached, the men would throw him back.
Technically, a case could be made that Fay was kidnapped. She was taken against her will and brutalized by individuals who were supposed to be providing aid. Sadly, this story is an all too common one in St. Bernard Parish and allegedly several officials from this particular parish are responsible for the worst examples of cruelty, inhumanity and misuse of power to come out of this crisis.
There is a constitutional right in this country to not be forced from your home, and it is just equally applicable in a natural disaster as it is in every day life. Likewise, not only was it her right to have Hunter accompany her to safety, it was imperative for sustaining her quality of life. None of these inalienable rights were taken into consideration in the days after the hurricane for many, including Fay and Hunter.
The last time Fay saw Hunter he was frantically doggie paddling after the boat she was being abducted in. Fay started looking for Hunter immediately. Over a year later, Fay is still committed to finding him.
Fay's case has been adopted by the Stealth Volunteers and they are now helping to reunite Hunter and Fay. According to the volunteer on the case, some of the animal shelters, such as the St. Bernard Parish Animal Shelter, have been helpful. Others have not been so forthcoming with information and in some cases have hindered her progress in her quest to find her best friend and service dog.
There is a possibility that Hunter has been located. Unfortunately, the shelter who adopted him out refuses to release the file on the dog in question until ordered to do so by a court of law. In correspondence to a Stealth Volunteer working on Hunter's case, the director of Marin Humane Society in Novato, Calif., Dianne Allevato, admits, “I met today with the guardian of the dog in question. Hunter may be the same dog that she adopted. It isn't clear.“ Yet, repeated requests to scan the animal in question for a matching microchip or releasing his file have been flatly denied. Hunter has been adopted out, and it appears that a legal action may be her only recourse.
What can be done?
First and foremost, you can e-mail Diane Allevato daily at DALLEVATO@marinhumanesociety.org concerning her refusal to see if the dog in question is Hunter. Secondly, if you know a California lawyer willing to help Fay obtain a court order - pro bono - have them contact me: KThomas@capcityfreepress.com
If you have information about Hunter email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Microchip ID # 453C165E18
Hunter is a neutered male, long-nosed Pekinese mix, long body, short bowed front legs, front feet and elbows stick out, always smiling, 25 lbs. Hunter is black with brown paws. He has a curled fluffy tail. Hunter was last seen at 1979 Sugarmill in lower St. Bernard. For more information, please visit http://helpbringhunterhome.blogspot.com/. If you have any information on Hunter please call 504.418.3734 or St. Bernard Parish Animal Control 504.228.1093 or email