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Rescued Hurricane Victims Remembered: Sporty, Mary Lou, and Licorice Safe Today

Written by PETA | September 1, 2008

When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast three years ago, thousands of animals were left in death traps from which they couldn’t escape. PETA’s rescue teams saw them clinging to trees surrounded by toxic floodwaters, swimming madly toward rescuers who were not allowed to save them, and pacing, stranded, and left to die on rooftops and balconies. Some of the luckier animals were rescued by PETA and eventually reunited with their guardians. With Hurricane Gustav having made landfall (the extent of the flooding is not yet certain) near New Orleans, many area residents have vowed not to make the same mistake again and have learned that the only way to protect the entire family during a disaster is to evacuate with their animal companions.

Read the stories below of several families whose animals were rescued by and delivered back to New Orleans by PETA after Hurricane Katrina; these lucky ones have already evacuated to safety with their human families.


Sporty: Sporty’s guardian refused to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina because he wouldn’t leave his dog behind. As the tragedy unfolded and the levees broke, Sporty’s guardian swam for two blocks in toxic waters with Sporty under his arm, only to realize that if he continued to fight the raging waters, neither of them would survive. He retreated, with Sporty, to the attic with food and water for both, and when rescue workers finally came, he was forbidden to take his dog with him. It took this kind, elderly man more than three months to track down his beloved dog, who was being fostered at PETA’s Norfolk headquarters. Today, Sporty and his guardian are safe and sound; they have evacuated and are outside the storm’s path.

Mary Lou: During Hurricane Katrina, the Estaveses stayed in their St. Bernard Parish home as long as they could before taking the last ferry out, but they were forbidden from taking their animals along. Afterward, they spent several weeks frantically searching for their lost dog before being reunited with Mary Lou, one of the 30+ dogs PETA had brought back to its Virginia office. The family has a plan this time around and has already evacuated to safety—with Mary Lou.

Licorice KATRINA
Licorice: Licorice’s “mom” was in the hospital with her elderly mother at the time Hurricane Katrina hit, and despite her pleas with rescue workers and government agents, she wasn’t allowed to enter her home to retrieve her toy poodle. The toxic floodwaters and the stress of being left to fend for herself had made Licorice quite ill and weak by the time rescue teams finally found her. Licorice was given vet care and fostered by PETA for months before we could track down her anxious human mom. Today, Licorice’s guardian wouldn’t dream of leaving her behind and has already evacuated the area with her family.

Commenting is closed.
  • christine says:

    i love peta they say what we cann’t sometimesi’m a vegan because of themi would never leave my baby girl my puppy alone

  • sundance says:

    I was looking at animal care organizations and their response to Katrina. PETA was identified as directly rescuing 32 animals. I hope they were all reunited or adopted by new permanent homes.

  • alice howe says:

    I worked in New Orleans doing animal rescue after Katrina. What I kept envisioning was the look that would go across my pets’ faces if I were to leave without them during an evacuation……………I will never leave them in any emergency….they are my soul.

  • Southerner says:

    Barbara For someone who probably thinks of herself as a compassionate person you are very prejudiced. You think that all southerners mistreat animals and that animals are always better off elsewhere? I have seen dogs chained outside during snow in Colorado left outside in the heat in places like Oregon and California left in parked cars in blazing hot Arizona and forced to live in tiny cramped apartments in NYC and Boston. Are some dogs chained up in the South? Sure. Does this mean they all are? Of course not! In fact by blaming all southerners for “leaving behind” and mistreating their pets you ignore the very story to which you commented! Sporty’s guardian refused to evacuate without his dog. It would have been better had he evacuated earlier with his dog but he might not have had the means to do so. Licorice’s owners were at the hospital when Katrina came hardly leaving her behind voluntarily. People in the South went to great lengths to try to save their pets I know a lot of people in Louisiana and Texas who didn’t even hestitate in taking their pets with them when they evacuated this past weekend. Leaving their pets behind wasn’t even an option although it would have been cheaper and faster for them to do so. Your idea that all southern animal owners are mean and that animals are automatically better off in any other place is just spiteful and closeminded.

  • Michelle Watts says:

    Hurricane Katrina and previous disasters are prime examples of why people should write their legislative leaders about the importance of having rescue methods available to animals. One should not have to make a decision about leaving hisher pet behind. In my case I would never leave my pets behind because they are my family.

  • Valerie says:

    Thank you for bringing these updates of these pets and how they are doing in this hurricane. News coverage is showing how pets are being evacuated they are taking this seriously this time. Thank you Peta for all your work you do for animals and the awareness you bring. And the commenter that thinks Southerners just chain their dogs these touching stories are examples of the devotion felt for pets many people that stayed during Katrina did so only because of their pets! I am sure there were many stories of bravery and devotion for pets that we never even heard about.

  • Angela says:

    To answer your question yes no fear all the dogs we returned after katrina were spayedneutered taken care of and the people had to have very good reasons the dogs were left behind one person was at the hospital with her mother when the levy broke and there was no expectation that it would one person was themselves hospitalized and so on. We did not return animals to people who we deemed unfit the 19 yr old girl who just waded out and left her dachshund behind for example we negotiated a purchase of another dog when we saw where he would be living and we arranged adoptions from foster care for all the rest some with the permission of previous guardians and others who were not claimed. We do not just let ’em go no questions asked and we do not let anyone go without sterilization! It’s all good.

  • Katie says:

    I am sooooooooooooooo happy for those animals who were brought to safety this time and last time thanks peta you made a big difference for these animals!

  • karen wall says:

    Thank you PETA and to all of the pet owners who have taken their babies with them this time.

  • Pete says:

    Why weren’t they allowed to bring their dogs with them? If I were in the midst of a hurricane I would refuse not to bring my cat with me. If he dies I die. Even though there are no hurricanes here anyway….

  • Barbara says:

    I hope PETA spayed and neutered these animals? I feel so sorry for the animals living in the South. The way people chaintie them up. It’s disgusting. I think the luckiest of animals to get out of Katrina were those who found NEW homes elsewhere in the country. With families who actually give a damn about their welfare i.e. not leaving them behind.

  • Niranjan says:

    God Bless the PETA People!