Sunday Evening Dog Blogging: Sappy Reader Rescue Dog Story Edition

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

This week’s dog, Lucky, comes with an incredible story. From reader Larry Brothers in Sammamish, Washington:

I spent a month rescuing animals in the aftermath of Katrina. The group I was with got a call one morning from the police. A dog – a bullmastiff, according to them –  was on a shelf in the closet of a wrecked house and was “out of his fucking mind.” He had bitten a couple of them and, if someone didn’t get him down, they were going to shoot him. I arrived to find a terrified, twenty-five pound chow/shiba mix who was, in fact, out of his fucking mind. He had been stuck in that house for two weeks after the hurricane and he bore a striking resemblance to Linda Blair in “The Exorcist.” It took me almost an hour to calm him down enough to get a slip leash on him and get him out of there.

Two weeks earlier, fourteen of us from Pasado’s Safe Haven in Washington had jumped on a plane to Houston, then rented several vans to head to New Orleans. We had no idea on the way there where we were going to stay or how we were going to talk our way past the police and military to get into the city. By the time the plane landed, people back at Pasado’s had secured a ranch with an enormous barn in Houma, south of the city. Louis and Linda St. Martin, a local attorney and his wife, told us to use it as we saw fit and we did exactly that. When we first arrived, we discovered that a local equestrian center had been commandeered to temporarily vet check and house the rescued animals until arrangements could be made to reunite them with their people or ship them out to shelters all over the country.

It was a well-intended cluster fuck. Different rescue groups would arrive with trucks and vans full of animals and have to spend hours checking in—after rescuing in 95 degree heat all day. Often the Center would reach capacity before all the animals were unloaded and the rescuers would have to leave to try to find some other place for them. And, of course, the in-fighting was stupendous. The Humane Society, the ASPCA, local groups… everyone wanted to have endless meetings about who was in charge. ‘Protocol’ seemed to be the watchword. We said fuck a bunch of protocol and set up two hundred wire kennels in the barn. Back in Washington, Pasado’s sent out emails and appeals on their website for volunteers. No experience necessary, bring your sleeping bags and tents and come help save lives. No certification or degrees required, unlike most of the other groups.

Within two weeks, we had vets and vet teams from all over the country and hundreds of volunteers. We had people donating private planes with the seats removed to fly animals to no-kill shelters all over the country. Some just loaded up vans and drove hundreds of miles or more to deliver them.

Some people were there for a few days and some for a few months. We saved over 1200 animals and were blackballed in Louisiana for refusing to follow protocol.

Lucky wouldn’t let anyone handle him but me. He was in the barn for several days before he was shipped out to a shelter. Over the ensuing months, I thought about him often. I had considered taking him home but I had two cats and two other dogs at the time and I didn’t want to get him all the way back to Washington to find he couldn’t get along with everyone. I even tried to find him a couple of times but, unknown to me, his identification number from the barn had been copied down wrongly, so it was fruitless.

In February of 2006, I was talking with a friend in Alabama whom I had met when she came to volunteer with us. She was the best I’ve ever seen with aggressive dogs and she ran a shelter in Alabama. We were reminiscing and, of course, Lucky’s name came up. I told her I hadn’t been able to locate him.

Four days later, she called me. Someone had just surrendered him at her shelter. I had her fly him to Washington immediately.

Today, Lucky is approximately 7-8 years old and shares our house with four other rescued dogs and my unbelievable wife, Amanda, who is – naturally – a dog trainer. My cats have passed away but Lucky did fine with them. He loves his housemates but, not unexpectedly, he has his problems. He is fiercely protective of our home and doesn’t do well with people or dogs he doesn’t know extremely well. That isn’t going to change, so we manage his behavior when people are over by putting him in my office with some toys and a frozen peanut butter kong. He thinks he’s died and gone to heaven.

The photo above is obviously the before. The after is below. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go hug my dog.

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33 Responses to “Sunday Evening Dog Blogging: Sappy Reader Rescue Dog Story Edition”

  1. #1 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Just wow.

    Interesting that the police thought that poor poochie was a Bullmastiff. Methinks police tend to think any “dog” is a Bull or Pitbull. At least they didn’t shoot ’em.

  2. #2 |  Marty | 

    great story- I hadn’t even considered the animal rescue part of the Katrina saga. Good job!

  3. #3 |  Dan | 

    Yeah, it makes you wonder about the claim that bulldog breeds are responsible for most attacks on people. If labradors and collies are called “pitbulls” by LE, then those numbers are crap.

  4. #4 |  JeffR | 

    It’s not encouraging to see the complete disregard for planning and following procedures. Like this “We had no idea on the way there where we were going to stay or how we were going to talk our way past the police and military to get into the city.”

  5. #5 |  Charles | 

    Fantastic – great work and a heartwarming story. I am actually shocked, in a pleasant way, that the cops didnt just shoot the dog. Kudos to them for reaching out for a better solution.

  6. #6 |  Andrew | 

    It’s a little dusty in here… fantastic story.

  7. #7 |  (B)oscoH | 

    Awesome, Larry. When Santorum gets elected, I will do all I can to preserve your right to use the fuck word whenever and however you want!

  8. #8 |  Radley Balko | 

    It’s not encouraging to see the complete disregard for planning and following procedures.

    Please, please let this be sarcasm.

  9. #9 |  GT | 

    I obviously had some chili residue left on my fingers, and inadvertently touched my eyes while reading this; there’s no other explanation for the salty water on my face.

    And let’s not focus too much on the fact that the “kill shelter” crowds (ASPCA etc) were WAY too concerned with whose cock got sucked first in the bureaucratic power-play. (That’s one reason I never donate to shelters who don’t have a ‘no kill’ policy. Well, that and the fact that the shitbags at the helm of such organisations usually pull down a good $300k-plus-perqs; the ‘charity parasite’ is a new breed of scumbag).

    Even the story of The Mighty Buddy (our Lab-x-Shepherd who died a month ago, after 16 years with our family having been rescued from a shelter by my brother) pales next to this story.

    Bud lived to the human equivalent of about 120, and was active – and HAPPY – until his last two days. If I’m gonna die, that’s how I want to go.

    And now some Byron: his Epitaph to Boatswain (his Newfie).

    Near this spot
    Are deposited the Remains
    Of one
    Who possessed Beauty
    Without Vanity,
    Strength without Insolence,
    Courage without Ferocity,
    And all the Virtues of Man
    Without his Vices.

    The Price, which would be unmeaning flattery
    If inscribed over Human Ashes,
    Is but a just tribute to the Memory of
    “Boatswain,” a Dog
    Who was born at Newfoundland,
    May, 1803,
    And died in Newstead Abbey,
    Nov. 18, 1808.

    When some proud son of man returns to earth,
    Unknown by glory, but upheld by birth,
    The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
    And storied urns record what rests below.
    When all is done, upon the tomb is seen,
    Not what he was, but what he should have been.
    But the poor dog, in life the firmest friend,
    The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
    Whose honest heart is still his master’s own,
    Who labors, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
    Unhonored falls, unnoticed all his worth,
    Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth –
    While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
    And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.

    Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
    Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power –
    Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
    Degraded mass of animated dust!
    Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
    Thy smiles hypocrisy, thy words deceit!
    By nature vile, ennoble but by name,
    Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
    Ye, who perchance behold this simple urn,
    Pass on – it honors none you wish to mourn.
    To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
    I never knew but one – and here he lies.

  10. #10 |  No Perfect Days | Maspik Teruzim | 

    […] As Busy As You Think by Laura Vanderkam. I am not going to whine about being busy ever again. – A dog story, with pics that made me get all mushy and sentimental. (I am, ordinarily, neither.) Like […]

  11. #11 |  George | 

    Larry, thank you for your service.

  12. #12 |  Aron | 

    Dan, typically folks (in rescues, in LE, etc…) who deal with strays guess what the breeds are. Par for the course. And you’re right, if there is a predisposition to label an aggressive dog as a pit bull, you’re going to skew those numbers.

  13. #13 |  Luisa | 

    Yeah, “fuck protocol,” fuck planning, blah blah. Pasado’s Safe Haven discovered it couldn’t begin to take care of all the Katrina dogs on its hands, and within 5 or 6 weeks had shipped scores of them to a “sanctuary” in Arkansas. A cursory check, which is standard protocol in the world of responsible rescue groups, would have showed them that the woman running the “sanctuary” was an animal hoarder/abuser. The local humane society had been trying to shut her down for years.

    Pasado sent the dogs anyway. When the county sheriff investigated and found horrific conditions, Pasado’s Safe Haven decided to sic their supporters on the sheriff before finally catching a clue. More here:

    And a heap of related news articles here:

    If you want to depress yourself mightily, do a Google images search for pasado’s safe haven + katrina + tammy hanson.

    But that was then, and this is now! And Charity Navigator has a donor advisory here:

    So yeah, super sweet story, but Pasado’s Safe Haven is not a group that should be blaming others for “well-intended cluster fucks.”

  14. #14 |  Stuart Murray | 

    wish you didn’t have to use the F word every other sentence as an adjective. I would have loved to have shared this story.

  15. #15 |  twig | 

    Thank you for this remarkable story. A veterinarian friend wanted to go to LA after Katrina, but after three weeks of paperwork and red tape, she gave up. Bravo to you and the others who did what needed to be done in spite of the “protocol.” I hope you and Lucky have many more happy years together. Congratulations!!

  16. #16 |  mr dude | 

    Damn pollen count is so high this time of year!!

  17. #17 |  Pam | 

    the eyes say it all in the before. The smile says it all in the after. Thanks for that story.

  18. #18 |  Diaz Alexander | 

    Dang… good on the police for not shooting the poor dog, and I’m so glad he’s safe and feels secure and loved again. Your ‘after’ picture makes me want to rub his ears and sweet-talk him.

    Huh. Kinda dusty in here…

  19. #19 |  OBTC | 

    Dear #13 | Luisa:
    And what exactly was it that you brought to the table to help out during Katrina?

    Dear #14 | Stuart Murray:
    Really Stuart Murray? This is what annoys/upsets you?

  20. #20 |  JeffR | 

    To Radley
    “Please, please let this be sarcasm.”

    It’s not. Although I work in a field related to emergency response for health (of people), for what it’s worth. That kind of behavior can make people worse off, absolutely. There’s lots of literature about how unorganized, untrained, uncoordinated volunteers show up to disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti, and waste time or money and distract other responders.

    We only heard Larry’s side of the story. But fine, I will accept this group was a net force for good in that situation. I’d still like to see them with more organization and that should be acknowledged. What if the story was instead about a group of inexperienced people that made decisions that caused a bunch of dog deaths? The other groups are doing this for a reason and it’s not purely covering their ass. “No certification or degrees required, unlike most of the other groups.”

    I love dogs and your blog is one of my favorites. I don’t think I’m reflexively against this kind of action. This narrative just read as tremendously cavalier.

  21. #21 |  CyniCAl | 

    #4 | JeffR — “It’s not encouraging to see the complete disregard for planning and following procedures.”

    #8 | Radley Balko — “Please, please let this be sarcasm.”

    Poe’s Law strikes again.

    “Pasado’s sent out emails and appeals on their website for volunteers. No experience necessary, bring your sleeping bags and tents and come help save lives. No certification or degrees required, unlike most of the other groups. Within two weeks, we had vets and vet teams from all over the country and hundreds of volunteers. We had people donating private planes with the seats removed to fly animals to no-kill shelters all over the country. Some just loaded up vans and drove hundreds of miles or more to deliver them. Some people were there for a few days and some for a few months. We saved over 1200 animals and were blackballed in Louisiana for refusing to follow protocol.”

    Anarchy in action. Bravo.

  22. #22 |  JeffR | 

    I just saw Luisa’s example. That is the type of thing that would concern me after reading the story and it seems it did happen.

  23. #23 |  Battleaxe | 

    I say bravo sir, and well done. I have 4 rescues myself, and they are the most wonderful dogs you will ever meet (well, after they finish their barking at you). One, if you can believe it, was shot by its previous owner. I’m very glad you were able to talk down the cops.

  24. #24 |  Luisa | 

    @OBTC [#19]: Glad you asked. I supported then, and still support, one of the best rescue groups on the planet. They coordinated the rescue of unclaimed Katrina pit bulls, and they are the group the ASPCA contacted after football star Michael Vick was arrested for dog fighting.Visit them here:

  25. #25 |  JacksonCampbell | 

    Dang it GT, looks like you and I have the same problem with that there salty water thing…

    I watched Katrina roll in up here in Tn from the top of a hill and the aftemath was a sight to behold and yea, we had the same problem with abandoned critters but nowhere near the scale in La. Notto mentin the problems last year after the April 27 tornado outbreak, and a good deal of those cases are still unresolved…

    I took in fopur abandoned cats ands they’re thriving and me…? Hmmmm getting a little bit out there just like them…ROFLMAO!

    Go Radley!

  26. #26 |  Pi Guy | 

    @JeffR, Stuart Murray:

    Life saved, none harmed (save those so easily offended: copy, paste, edact the F-words, make a note in your post that indicated that you edited the text slighty to make it, uh… safe for the easily offended…). Unlikely love story with super happy ending.

    “But… but… they didn’t have a [fill in fave bureaucratic/educational authority receipt-of-sale here]!!”

    Kinda makes ya wonder how many lives could’ve been saved. *sigh*

  27. #27 |  Pi Guy | 

    edact = “redact”

  28. #28 |  Cyto | 

    I love the attitude of the “professional disaster specialists”, particularly noting that this is in reference to Katrina. I still can’t wrap my head around the psychology of the group inaction in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, where we watched hundreds of people sitting in squalor for days for lack of transport.

    One would have thought that if the FEMA officials couldn’t do it, the Mayor would do it, and lacking the Mayor’s leadership one enterprising soul at the Superdome would have taken the reigns and lead a group to the nearby school bus storage depot to confiscate the buses and drive the folks out of there. Sure, it might make things more complex for FEMA, but at least they would be in a location with water, air conditioning and a place to poop safely.

  29. #29 |  a_random_guy | 

    This is yet another area where the federal government simply has no valid role. All the feds do is use the mission to build up yet another useless bureaucracy. When the shit hits the fan, it cannot be solved by throwing forms at it, and the feds have no one who knows the local conditions. As a result, they are worse than useless, not only because they interfere with local people and local organizations, but because local organizations have generally been disbanded as unnecessary.

    Disaster preparedness is and must be a local matter, with logistical support from the State. You need local people who know the local terrain, the local people, the ins-and-outs of the area. If things get really bad, people from neighboring states will undoubtedly volunteer to help – just as really did happen with Katrina.

  30. #30 |  Linda | 

    #17 Pam, perfectly said.

  31. #31 |  Michele | 

    My kudos to you for your awesome help for those less fortunate and with very little voice in this world. My last four dogs have all been rescues and any future ones will also be rescues.

  32. #32 |  Dogs | 

    My heart goes out to all of those honorable people who took it upon themselves to rescue dogs from Katrina! I know a lady from Iowa who trekked to New Orleans to help with clean up, and came back with a mix breed that she found wondering down a street. This dog is a fantastic pet, and from what I can tell, she fit in very well with her new mamma.

  33. #33 |  molly | 

    Larry, hugs to you and your generous hearted and spontaneous, practical, pragmatic and huge hearted chums who DID – not pontificated, who saw what was needed and neither bleated for someone else to do it nor used even saving a life as an excuse to chest beat and stroke their ego and self importance. You read of the petty, mean little souls who hanker for, not organised rescue, but ORGANISATION FOR ITSELF and you just hope they don’t ever have the chance to demand triplicate, time wasting dross in an emergency. The souls of lower ranking civil servants, expanded into their own lives. As for the explosive force of a ‘swear word’, (horrors!!), which is used as an emphatic, to underline extreme need or emotion… Offence in THAT is usually found in the ill educated or poor and the religious, often all three found together, or in the first or second generation that have escaped that class, who have had the use of swearing, drummed into them as coming from the lowest classes. Fact is, if you go to Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, mix with titles, (Queen’s daughter, Princes Harry and William, etc), they all swear like bin men, if angered. I always find people who object to swearing are much more likely to be judgemental and petty and say far worse things, far nastier, without swearing. Who would win a VC with that petty little mind, quibbling about protocol and paperwork? In an emergency, I know whose company I’d prefer to be in. Hugs to all your group and shout Lucky a bone for me, from Australia. Oh and GT, from another Byron lover, the Boatswain poem and epitaph – very apt. Remember Shelley saying he knew he’d found Byron’s new house, as there was a dog, a monkey and a peacock, to greet him on the stairs… (and if you come to my place, there are 2 dogs, a cat and 3 chooks to meet you in the tiled living room and they all try to claim the one ottoman – lucky it’s high class vinyl and easy to wipe down). Oh and all my animals are rescues and I’ve saved over 100 dogs and 30 cats, over 20 years and done all the desexing etc and given most of them away, free to good homes.