Katrina Leaves Pets In Peril

hurricane katrina pets

They aren't counted among the dead, they aren't pointing fingers at who's to blame, but their suffering is hard to ignore.

Katrina's four-legged victims seem utterly alone, either left behind on purpose or turned away from evacuation buses.

We hear them barking from abandoned homes, we see them stranded on rooftops, and wandering the streets barely able to keep their heads above water, CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports from New Orleans.

"They're living out on the streets right now, and they're very sweet lovable dogs," New Orleans resident Kate Cummins says.

The rescue efforts we've seen are nothing short of heroic.

A dog named Sam had to be cut out of a roof.

"Hey Joe, happy birthday dude, I've got Sam. I got him, he's alive," a man announces proudly to his friend over the phone.

Noah would have been proud. We've seen sea-going snakes, turtles, birds, even a pot-bellied pig.

"Once you get your hands on them, you can almost feel their body relax, they're so happy to have that human contact with them," Shirley Minshew of the International Fund for Animal Welfare says.

Shirley Minshew is the Dr. Doolittle of this disaster. She has a list of some 3,000 pets she's determined to save.

Minshew adds that she is basically going door-to-door, or, better put, rooftop-to-rooftop, to rescue the animals.

You might wonder who would risk their lives in this muck to save a dog, or a cat or a pot-bellied pig. It's not just about those eyes or those wagging tails. It's because the pets may very well be the only thing in these people lives that they can actually save.

"It's very heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching to see that they come here and all they want is their pets, because it's the only thing they have left," says Margaret Del Rossi, a pet rescue volunteer.

Daniel Lorentz lost his home and his two labs.

"It would be the greatest thing to me to get my dogs back," Lorentz says.

We watched as Lorentz searched every pen in this animal shelter, and nothing.

"I guess you gotta really be a pet owner to know how much it hurts," Lorentz says.

In a community of so much loss, the power of a pet seems boundless.

More information on animal rescues is available on the Louisiana SPCA Web site.