I made a mistake and I apologize: update to my review of Dark Water Rising

On July 4th I posted my "review" of the film Dark Water Rising. On July 10th I received an email that began hello, this is larry from the movie.

I'm thinking...he's going to ream me out for my comments about him and Aaron and Winn Dixie. He's going to use a lot of capital letters and exclamation marks and be all huffy and defensive* because I was critical of them for making choices that precluded many animals ever getting reunited. I was so pleasantly wrong. His email was polite, calm and in some ways, very sweet (with no caps or exclamation marks). He informed me of those things I was wrong about. For one, he was not the one smoking with the tattoos (even though I have nothing against tattoos). He told me that the collar on the dog in the scene I wrote about was very tight on the dog's neck in spite of the dog having lost 20 or more pounds. That was what made him so mad and made him toss the collar at the house once he was able to remove it. He also said that what sounded like tags were not tags, but actually the buckle. All of this of course was not clear from the film itself.

We exchanged emails and stories about our experiences of the past 11 months and in our first (multi-hour) phone conversation, shared thoughts and ideas about the future of animal rescue - one of those "we can make the world a better place" sort of conversations.

Larry and I are now friends. He was one of those people I immediately trusted when we began to exchange emails. I have come to realize that he is, without a doubt, one of the real heroes of all this, and one of the most truly dedicated and compassionate animal people I've ever met. Through him I came to understand that many of the animals that he/they encountered had been abused or neglected. And he understands fully that the pet owners we have been working with are not searching for those abused and neglected dogs. We both recognize that Winn Dixie, just like Lamar Dixon, Best Friends, Pasados...all had people there who stole dogs regardless of what one wants to call it.

In my mind, if a person went to the Gulf Coast after Katrina to "rescue" pets or volunteer at a staging area or film a movie or sightsee, and took an animal (or several) home to "foster" and did not immediately post that animal on Petfinder (the AERN database which was set up specifically for Katrina-rescued pets) and did not actively search for the owner (preferably with the help of a Stealth Volunteer) than the pet was stolen. Period.

I hope that this update to my review of the film doesn't embarrass Larry. He and I have agreed to disagree about those things we disagree about which is what all friends should be able to do. Thanks Larry for the 2 1/2 months you spent in New Orleans for the animals. And thanks for getting in touch with me a few weeks ago.

* so many "animal people" are so out there and reactionary....often if I post something on my blog that someone doesn't agree with, I'll get a ranting email. These emails tend to be predictable and follow a pattern. The author of the email almost always first attacks me and then gives an overly lengthy and detailed accounting of all the wonderful things she has done for the animals. And for some reason, most people feel it necessary to also tell me how much money they have spent. This last part perplexes me as I think they have me confused with their accountant. Anymore I don't respond because a) of having very limited time and b) because anytime Me thinks doth protest too much I already have all the information I need. Footnote: Several years ago I stopped working in the mental health field because it was driving me crazy (pun intended) but this past year, working with so many "animal people" and seeing so much deplorable behavior, my background has been a huge benefit.

Revisiting Nahnook

Many people have asked me if Nahnook was ever returned to her owner. The answer is no, not yet. This was originally posted here on January 16th but it seems like a good time to bump it back up to the top. I deleted a few things about Maria, Nahnook's owner, that are not relevant now.

We tried to resolve this quietly and privately but Elizabeth (who is the administrator of the website www.snowballschance.org) is refusing to return Nahnook to her owner after she and the owner met at a half-way point two weeks ago. The owner of Nahnook spent some time playing with her dog but then Elizabeth/Emily declared that it wasn't her dog and took the dog and drove away.

This comes directly from www.snowballschance.org:
This organization will aide [sic] in re-uniting pets with their loved ones [sic] Animals "taken" from their families, missing, or forced to abandon & [sic] Displaced in shelters or foster homes [sic]

Maria, Nahnook's owner has been in Intensive Care for over a week and we just learned will need to remain in the hospital longer. Like most others, Maria and her husband lost everything and are waiting to get their FEMA trailer to return to New Orleans. They are living temporarily in Mississippi although she is in a New Orleans hospital.

The photo below is the only picture that Maria has of Nahnook, saved on her cell phone.

The horribly manipulated photo below is the one that Elizabeth posted on Petfinder in December after she had been "fostering" the dog for three months. Elizabeth erased all the color from Nahnook's eyes because in her mind, the owner had one chance to come up with the right answer about which eye is blue and which brown without being told which perspective the answer was to be based on (looking at the dog or the dog's right/left)

The photo below is of Nahnook badly Photoshopped to look like it is two different dogs. Elizabeth copied the photo of Nahnook (the one from the owner's cell phone) and a photo she took of Nahnook on to a black background and then blacked out part of Nahnook's muzzle in the top photo and whited out an area on the face, just above the (dog's) right eye.

The photo below is another one that Elizabeth posted to "prove" that it is not Nahnook. It is obvious that this eyes of this photo have been manipulated/altered in some way.


To the evil person who threw this dog out of the car...

Here is one more dog "adopted" after Katrina and later discarded, disposed of, gotten rid of....thrown out of a car by her grateful, loving new owners.

To the person who did this heinous act - may you rot in hell. I bet that you must have felt like quite the armchair hero for "adopting" a Katrina pit. But you're nothing but a pathetic loser. Loser for all the obvious reasons and loser because someone else will adopt this sweet dog and give her all the love she deserves for the rest of her life, and be rewarded 1000X over.

In fact I want to adopt her even though I live far away from this shelter. She has stolen my heart. How can anyone look at those eyes and do what you did to her? Please don't let me find out that you did that with your kids in the car.

And to all the rest of you who adopted a Katrina dog - because none of the other 236752 available dogs at shelters all over the country were quite right - when you realize that your Katrina dog pees on the carpet and chews up expensive Italian leather shoes and barks at absolutely nothing when you're trying to watch The Sopranos and throws up great big gobs of grass pate on the couch just like all dogs, P-L-E-A-S-E have the compassion take it to a no-kill shelter and be honest about why you no longer want to keep it. Do Not throw it out of your car.

And this sweetheart, after all she's been through, still likes to ride in cars. Amazing. Some dogs have more humanity than the humans who own them.

Notes: Munchkin is a Hurricane Katrina survivor and has been through a lot. She is a mellow quiet gal who is still adjusting from being in the hurricane. She was adopted from the shelter previously but her owners dumped her out of their vehicle and drove off. Thankfully she was picked up by a good samaritan. She would do best as the only dog or with a non dominant male dog. She is very gentle, loves to ride in the car, loves to lay on the couch and loves treats. She needs a stable home where she will get a lot of love and attention.

Rescued dog becomes a rescuer

This is one cool dog. And a very lucky one. Thank you Lisa Myers for taking the chance on him. He has a happy and productive life ahead of him now.

Letter from evacuee still searching for dog

I emailed the article from my July 16th post (“They have absolutely no right to keep the dog” says law professor) to many of the Katrina evacuees whose pets are still missing as well as some who have been reunited, and got this letter back from Peter, the owner of Nestle.

More letters from pet owners will be posted soon. Their voices need to and will be heard.

That article has me so angry. Why should these people judge those from Katrina? Do they tend to forget that these pets were not just left behind because "oh we just don't care," or "they are just property." No, they were left behind because of how fast we had to evacuate or where we had to go. People tend to forget all of this was very sudden and in a panic things get blurred. My dog is one of those that was lost in the shuffle. He was left behind with a family member, who was rescued and guess what they made him leave the dog! People need to think about that owners were MADE TO LEAVE THEIR PET!!!!!!!! The lady talking about heartworms well knowing that you have to give your pet the heartworm pill every month they were left for that long. It's not like they can just go do it for themselves! I am tired of being called inhuman and not a loving and caring owner. I've looked far and wide for my dog who I miss so much. They just don't understand that all of this is just like losing a child. It's hard enough still dealing with that to have people say I was wrong and horrible because I didn't have a way to bring him with me.

Well let them be in that situation for once and see what happens. No body knew it was going to be that bad; if we did things may have been prevented by opening shelters where you could leave your pet til it was over. But then again that wasn't all that safe either.

I am sorry that I am sending this to you but I have no idea where else to send it. I'm really glad people are standing up for their pets rights. If I found my dog I would want him back too. It's only right for those who have lost their pet and those who have fostered or adopted get together and really see what's in the best interest of the dog. These dogs were not neglected out of spite or hatred, they were left behind because people didn't know what to do and the parish presidents and all those above didn't make it very easy to take your pet along now, did they? Of course by the time Rita hit you could take your pet everywhere. So those of us from Katrina have to still suffer because of all the indecisions made so early. If people want me to feel like a horrible person for doing what I thought was the best for my dog, well they've accomplished it. I love my dog very much and never wanted to see anything horrible happen to him. He was my baby and he was treated like a King. All I can hope is that he's making someone else just as happy as he made me for five years. I just want people to know that there isn't a day that goes by that he's not on my mind or in my prayers. I lost everything but for me nothing is worse than this.

Just wanted to share my thoughts on this matter. Thanks for all of the support from different organizations and the tireless efforts of all those who have helped me look. It's very much appreciated. Thanks again and God bless.

Peter Pelas

Nestle was left in a house in Violet (St. Bernard Parish). Please come forward if you recognize this dog or have any information on the person who rescued and/or transported him.

Note to Pam Bondi, Lynne Welsh, Roland Blais & daughter Elizabeth (aka snowballschance), and all the rest you who have someone's dog - please feel free to post a comment to Peter's letter. And have the courage to sign your name to it just like Peter did rather than hide behind "anonymous."

My most sincere apologies for removing the above comment for a few days while a friend of mine was trying to isolate some weird HTML code on my blog. Please see July 29 post for more on this specifically as it relates to the Snowball Kids.


If you thought Hurricane Katrina was frightening...

View the trailer (click above link).
See the film.
Pass this on to every person you know.

Make a commitment to do your part to help save the planet.

If not you, then who will do it?


Another person who should never own a dog

The following was forwarded to me; the original email was sent from Samantha Miller to a pit rescue group and the very thoughtful and intelligent response was sent back to Ms. Miller.

From: "samantha miller"
To: simmonsUS@aol.com
CC: jozz_bug@hotmail.com
Subject: pits
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2006 01:02:51 -0500

I have a pit who is almost four years old and sorry to say he will not see that birthday. I have to put him down. I love pits they are nice dogs, I am looking to get another one. A person I know will be selling some in oct. I just dont want to wait that long and I think it would be neat to get a dog who needs a home. I have raised my dog and since he was a puppy, but as time went on he changed for the worse. I never used a leash on him until this past year. I had a baby and ever since she came around he is mean. I can not trust him with strangers and other dogs or nothing. I need to get a puppy to grow up with her. She is a year now so I dont have to spend all my time with her any more and I want a dog that can grow with her. So I really hope you can help me out. I would like a dog who is friendly and good with kids. So please e-mail me back or give me a call when you can my number is 920-924-0626. Thank you for your time and I hope I can talk to you soon.

Samantha Miller
Date: Sat, 22 Jul 2006 07:01:15 -0400
From: Beth Yale

Hello Samantha.

My name is Beth Yale. I am very involved in dog rescue, with my primary angle being Pit Bulls.
I know the breed very well, and your story is a sad but familiar one. A sad story because the dog is being put to sleep without ever being known for the wonderful animal he is, and a familiar story because so many people like yourself want a pit bull, but know absolutely nothing about the breed. Trust me, you are not alone. I only hope you will listen to me before another animal must be euthanized.
Many points in your email trouble me, and I must firmly suggest you set your sights elsewhere for a family dog, the pit bull is most certainly not for you. If you know a "person selling some in Oct." then there is a 99.9% chance that individual is a back yard breeder, and you will have absolutely no idea what kind of "pit bull" you are getting. You will more than likely be investing in yet another ill bred hybrid of some kind, nothing like the true American Pit Bull Terrier, whose impeccable bloodlines produce level headed, human loving working dogs. If you admire, respect and truly know the breed, they may also make wonderful in-home companions- for the right person.
Why on earth would you never use a leash on a pit bull?!
Pit Bulls are naturally dog aggressive, not "mean". ANY pit bull or pit mix must ALWAYS be on a leash, in a home, in a privacy fenced yard, or in a carrier. No exceptions. You are responsible for your dog's behavior. If he attacks someone else's dog because he wasn't properly contained, then you hold the blame all by yourself. You simply cannot shift the blame to the dog and say he's turned "mean". You were the one raising him. There is ALWAYS the chance your pit bull will be aggressive with other animals. It's in their nature.
Another point to your email I found worrisome: you want a dog for your child to "grow up with". This is a myth. There is no guarantee ANY breed of dog with be right for your child to "grow up with", dogs are not creatures at our disposal- to put to sleep whenever they don't follow along with our fantasies of the "perfect house dog". Puppies are no good with inexperienced dog handlers with little children. Puppies are rambunctious and toothy, and they do not know how to control their puppy antics, nor should they be expected to. Likewise, kids will be kids, and a one year old cannot be expected to understand how to be careful around a puppy. Only a very experienced dog person should bring home a puppy to a toddler.
Your dog has issues, but what have you done to socialize him? Is he in your home or chained in your yard? Is he neutered? How much time do you spend with him? I feel your poor pit bull deserves more credit than you have given him, and I certainly don't feel you should jeopardize the life of another animal without educating yourself a lot more in the matter. Have you had him temperament tested? Do you even care about this poor dog? Send me pictures of him and all of his information. He deserves a chance at a life with someone who knows and understands the breed. There are people out there a lot more qualified to make the decision whether or not to destroy him. You finding a new dog is a distant second to the primary issue at hand. What is your Pit Bull's name? He at least deserves to be called by his name by his "master" who plans to destroy him. I will help place your dog you currently have, but I absolutely cannot assist you in obtaining another pit bull. If you choose not to listen to anything else I have said- please please know this for sure: The Pit Bull is not the dog for you. You will do this wonderful breed of animal no justice, but only contribute to more cases of "mean pit bulls" being destroyed in shelters. Please contact me. Do not throw your dog away like a piece of trash.
Beth Yale
Animal Rescuer
Pit Bull Advocate