Hurricane Katrina affected families who had to evacuate. Many lost their homes, and now the storm is taking a toll on those who volunteered to help save animals Dothan alone took in 923 animals after the storm, but now those who helped are facing lawsuits.
More than 10 months after the hurricane, pet owners are still searching for their pets.
The problem now is many pets have found new homes and their new owners are not ready to turn over the animals. This situation is becoming common across the United States and is resulting in many lawsuits and semi-acts of terrorism.
During the days following Hurricane Katrina volunteers flooded New Orleans, many to rescue abandoned pets. A central-shelter was set up from which outside organizations came in to rescue the animals, with the goal of facilitating those pets being reunited with their owners. Those shelters adopting these animals signed an agreement.
Pet Evacuee Volunteer Mary, her name changed for record, said "On October 16th, the unclaimed animals shall become the property of the Satellite Shelter."
Most shelters signed the agreement and aimlessly tried to find the pet's rightful owners. Those individuals displaced by the storm had a hard time locating their pets and in October, these pets legally came up for adoption. One rescuer who wishes to remain anonymous says that some evacuees are now terrorizing those families who adopted the animals in hopes of getting their pets back.
"The cause is noble, but tactics are akin to terrorism"
Mary says several families have received threats and have had to ask for police protection because the original pet owners are being unreasonable. We contacted one organization accused of using guerrilla tactics and they said, "No one in Stealth is threatening or harassing anyone."
They say they are simply working to reunite pets with their rightful owners and they do not take responsibility for the actions of those aggressive individuals. After speaking with people from both sides of this debate it seems the majority of people are working for the common good.
"We have to boil down to what is in the best interest of the animals and it's passionate."
The ensuing lawsuits are bound to increase in number as more animals are identified, and because this is the first disaster of this magnitude in the untied states, shelter organizers say they just have to deal with each case as it arises.
The problem could get a lot worse in Dothan. Of the 923 pets rescued from the hurricane and brought to Dothan, 20 percent were adopted out. Many individuals involved in rescue groups say these families are "sitting ducks" just waiting for a lawsuit.
However, there is good news some people who helped rescue animals during the hurricane say they are ready to go when the next hurricane hits and that nothing can stand in their way of accomplishing their mission in life of helping the animals.
Save-A-Pet of Dothan rescued more than 900 pets during Hurricane Katrina; of that number only two percent were reclaimed by their owners. That's about the national average.