Lessons from the animals of Katrina

Abandoned animals continued to be found alive for six or seven weeks after the disaster, still awaiting the return of their beloved guardians.

Abandoned animals continued to be found alive for six or seven weeks after the disaster, still awaiting the return of their beloved guardians.

by Kris Lecakes Haley — 

Every pet guardian can attest to the fact that the animals with whom we share our lives are masterful teachers, providing us with infinite opportunities to explore our own self-truth. Last year, however, we learned that equally poignant wisdom may be shared with us by animals we have never met, as was the case with the animals of Katrina.

Professed animal advocates are typically ensconced on the outer fringes of society, but the plight of the Katrina animals crossed all societal lines and inspired even the most hardened hearts toward advocacy. The sense of empathy stirred in us by these courageous survivors was palpable.

We sensed their desperation, felt their helplessness and cried for their hopelessness. That empathy drove many people to amazing acts of compassion, expressed through donations of time, supplies and dollars at heretofore unheard of levels. At their own personal risk, volunteers from throughout the country descended upon New Orleans to help the helpless.

The animals taught us lessons of perseverance, courage, hope, strength and determination. Mostly we learned lessons of love, love so great that it transcended all known barriers to survival. Abandoned animals continued to be found alive for six or seven weeks after the disaster, still awaiting the return of their beloved guardians.

Will we learn from this? If we do not, the risk of repeating history is a foreboding possibility. Many were so moved by the plight of the animals of Katrina that they moved virtual mountains in an effort to adopt one. However, if the animals of Katrina could leave us with one most important lesson, perhaps it is the following.

Katrina was an unpreventable act of nature. However, each year, millions of animals are surrendered to shelters across America. This, too, is a disaster, but one far greater than Katrina. This is not an unpreventable act of nature, but an entirely preventable act of man that happens year after year after year.

From this perspective, animals that fill every shelter in every state are, in spirit, the animals of Katrina. If we can bestow the same feelings of compassion and empathy we felt for the animals of Katrina on the abandoned animals in our very own communities, and do whatever we can to end this abandonment of epidemic proportion in our own backyards, perhaps we will have learned the greatest lesson of all.

 

Kris Lecakes Haley is an internationally certified, Bach Foundation registered practitioner working exclusively with animals. She is also a co-founder of One Voice — Compassion In Action, a movement dedicated to raising animal awareness through words, music and art. kris@animalsynergy.com, www.animalsynergy.com or 480- 460-1801.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 1, February/March 2006.

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