Reuniting Pets and Owners After Katrina

Calls to pet shelters from animal lovers have prompted the rescue of thousands of pets left behind in Katrina's wake. In New Orleans, teams are going house to house in search of marooned animals. But uniting this growing city of beloved pets with their owners is another matter.

Lorne and Valerie Bennett were forced to leave their four pets behind when Katrina chased them from their Slidell, La., home to an Atlanta hospital. A local doctor had promised to stay behind and care for the pets.

"We never thought we'd see them again," Lorne said.

And miraculously from their Atlanta hospital room, they did. The doctor had kept his word, spiriting their four animals to a shelter, where they appeared on TV.

Then a Texas couple, hearing of the Bennetts' plight, drove 1,200 miles to pick up the pets.

"It got put in our laps and we were destined to do it," said Jeff Caldwell, who helped with the reunion.

And then this miracle story ended in a happy sea of tears, as the Bennetts were reunited with their English springer spaniel, Oreo, their dachshund, Lady, their cat, P. Kitty, and their guinea pig, Piggy Wiggy.

It's difficult to estimate how many pets got left behind in New Orleans, said Racelle Carlson, field manager for the American Humane Society. But the AHS is performing lots of rescues, which are mostly dogs, she added.

"We've been in boats, getting descriptions of the houses and the pets and just going in and getting them," Carlson said.

"We're tranquilizing the ones that are aggressive," she added. "They're just scared right now."

The AHS is bringing all pets to the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, La., where there are vets to care for them.

"We're not seeing many cats, but we have gotten about five so far. They're mostly just dogs," Carlson said. "We did have a report that a man had alligators and snakes he couldn't get to."

To reach the American Humane Society, call 800-486-2631.

To reach the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, call 888-773-6489.

You can view homeless pets on