July 15th, 2010
10:25 AM ET

Video: Hundreds of Gulf-area pets homeless

Randi Kaye | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Editor's Note: For information on how you can help these homeless pets click here.

I just got back from a couple of hours at the Louisiana SPCA here in New Orleans. For me, as an animal lover and the proud owner of a cat, this shoot was very tough.

We went because we wanted to see how the oil spill in the gulf is affecting the family pet. It’s not just pelicans and turtles and dolphins that are feeling this. While the family pet may not be covered in oil, too many of them are now homeless because their owners, mainly fisherman, can no longer afford to take care of them. They are out of work and behind on bills, so now as many as 80 dogs a month are ending up in shelters, given away by their owners.

At one shelter in St. Bernard Parish, they saw an increase of more than 100 dogs this past June compared to June last year. In June of 2009, they had 17 dogs turned in by owners. This year, 127. They say it’s all because of the spill.

I couldn’t tear my eyes away from these cages. There were all kinds of dogs: terriers, golden retrievers, and every kind of mixed breed you can image. One cuter than the next. More dogs have been turned in than cats but there are plenty of cats that now need homes too.

The SPCA’s Ana Zorrilla told me when some families come in to turn in their pets they can hardly bring themselves to say it’s because of the spill. She says they are just too torn up. She says she’d like BP to help foot some of the bills and help keep the family pet at home instead of at the shelters. She would like BP to pay for petfood and veterinary expenses so families can stay intact. With donations, the Lousiana SPCA just launched a program this week to try and keep pets at home by providing food, vet care, spaying and neutering, even microchipping. But they don’t have the funds for all the families who need it.

The saddest part about this is that so many of these now homeless pets may never find another home. The shelter we visited is not a no-kill shelter and almost every cage was taken. The dogs we saw today only have about 2 or 3 weeks, if they’re lucky, to get adopted. If they don’t get a second chance, these pets will likely be euthanized. And they never even had a drop of oil on them….

Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill • Randi Kaye • Reporter's Notebook
soundoff (125 Responses)
  1. Judy

    I am sitting here in tears, thinking about those poor pets and their owners. It is heartbreaking and yes, BP, absolutely should provide a fund so owners can go to shelters to get food for their pets. I would dearly love to contribute to this need, but I have my own "informal" cat shelter and have a number of rescues from my own neighborhood. Mine are all spayed or neutered, fed and veterinary care given at my own expense. There are so many cats and dogs in need. I hope those who can give to this cause, or any other of their own choosing, will do so. God bless those who care for animals, in any capacity.

    July 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  2. Shirley Scholz

    This is so heart breaking. Yes indeed BP should kick in some money to this hideous outcome from their errors and lack of common sense. This whole situation is a total snub to the people that use the oceans as their livelihood. I hear the constant reprimands of the Alberta oilsands in Canada. What is with BP drilling beneath the ocean and not having an emergency plan in place in the case that problems of this nature were a definite possibility. This is the ultimate lack of consideration and respect for the people whose livelihoods come from those waters. We visited Louisiana several times while our daughter attended university in NO from 2001-2004. She worked at the LSPCA in the ninth ward, and missed the wrath of Katrina when she finished university.
    I could fill a book with our experiences of visiting that awesome state and surrounding areas and states.
    I just cannot comprehed how a country such as the UK can hold it's head up and watch the struggle and depridation taking place and not step forward or at the least speak out at this disgraceful situation that wreaks damage and cost through out the universe. BP owes the world an apology and endless monies to the peoples whose lives have been virtually called to a halt. Now not only are they struggling for daily bread but have had to forfeit their pets that may have been their only outlet for consolement.
    Shame on you BP.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
  3. Antigone1000

    Sad how no one these days can manage to care for their pets. I was laid off for more than a year, yet did not have to take one animal to the shelter. People need to step up to their responsibilities. It is not that expensive to care for pets and there are organizations that will help with food if someone is having a tough time buying food for their pets. I have to say–this really takes away a lot of sympathy I had for people in this area. If they cannot show their pets any more consideration than to dump them at a shelter, maybe they don't deserve any better than they got.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  4. Cherisa

    What a heartbreaking story! I had not thought of this side effect of the oil spill. We have five pets and have been fortunate so far in surviving job cuts and meeting expenses. I can't imagine what these families have gone through; surely it wasn't an easy decision for some. We can't adopt but we can make a donation.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  5. June Meagher

    I really do hope BP will do the decent thing and help out here by putting cash into the various shelters also they have enough staff who could also adopt these animals.

    Thank goodness people do care enough to highlight this awful situation.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
  6. Melissa Woodruff

    I work in animal rescue in Arkansas, and have worked with a group in Louisiana, where I am from. For all of you wanting to adopt but are not sure how to get the animal to you, there is a number of great transport services available. Got Orphans Transport is awesome and Pilots and Paws are just two. Maybe the Andersons could do a story on these transport services. You can google them. Hope it helps!!!

    July 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
  7. Derrick

    I was thinking the same thing as Connie. All the friends I know think of their pets as family members. I have 2 sons who are dependent on my to provide for them. If I lost my job, I would not give them up. I would find a way. To hear that these people who took the pets in are getting rid of them is what is heart breaking, not that they can't afford to care for them. I can think of many things I can sacrifice instead of giving up a family member.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  8. Cassandra

    Contact dog town and shame on thoes owners they need to be dumped off I'm the middle of the gulf!

    July 15, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  9. Beth

    Randi & ANderson – thank you very, very much for doing stories like this. The more people that see this report the better chance for all the pets. I agree with maymay, Lesley and CC. People are too quick to give up family pets. I've been through four layoffs and I would never give up my pets. They are FAMILY pets – part of the FAMILY. I hope all the animals find new, forever homes.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  10. Sam, Alaska

    To those that are saying the pet owners are irresponsible....I dont know their personal circumstances so I cant say one way or another but the fact remains that these pets are being taken to shelters whether its because the owner isnt responsible or they truly couldnt provide for their care. Do we not help the pet because of the stupid human in their lives? They are at the shelter and need help, thats the fact. Now, what are we going to do about it as a society? Point fingers at the owners and not help the pets because of the owners stupidity? That solves nothing.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  11. Mark

    What a cop out. These are just white trash, irresponsible pet owners using the spill as an excuse to dump an unwanted pet. Maybe they should cut out the Jack Daniels and Marlboros and hang on to the pets that they committed to caring for.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  12. chris from canada

    this is completely horrifying!
    2 or 3 weeks until your pet (who loves you unconditionally) is put down......you are monsters!

    are you planning to give away your children next?
    maybe have them put down if you can't provide the next meal?

    FIND a way, there is ALWAYS a way, don't just give up!
    Your pet would NEVER give up on YOU!

    this makes me sick
    most people should never own animals in the first place

    July 15, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  13. Tony

    Are you kidding me?! Now BP is responsible for the poor homeless puppies with the big sad eyes? Now it's starting to just get silly. Perhaps they should make reparations to the Humane Society to cover the cost of disposing of all of these pets whose owners couldn't even afford dog food. Geez!

    July 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  14. MJ

    So let me get this straight, only a 2 month old oil spill and b/c people panic like the apocolypse is coming they just go and dump their family pet at the pound. Seems like these people are one big cop out and are a bunch of quitters and the people that are doing this had no business w/ a pet in the first place. I have 2 dogs and I do not care if I was living on the street and made $20/week I would NEVER drop my dogs at the pound. Grow up and get some responsibility. But under a liberal government I guess this is what this country has come too.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  15. Darlene


    "Eighty dogs a month" from "mainly fisherman?" – B.S!

    This is not Hurricane Katrina! These animals weren't displaced by flood waters or death surrounding them, just irresponsible owners.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  16. Michael H.

    PAWS in Chicago is a fantastic, no kill shelter. These people need to start calling agencies nationwide so these poor animals are not killed. However, one of the most traumatic things for a domesticated animal is being stripped from its home. These "starving" fisherman should thing twice before turning their dogs in. Dogs cost pennies a day to feed, and mostly they need water and love. As an animal lover, I find it despicable how people can abdandon a family member. Unless the animal has significant health problems which require maintenance medications, healthy pets cost next to nothing to keep.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  17. marianewyork

    Pet ownership is a priviledge and should be a life long commitment. Our dog stays no matter what. If we eat, he eats. My children are learning about real commitment, unconditional love and sacrifice. He is part of our family and we figure out ways for him to stay with us no matter what. If there is a will, there is always a way.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  18. Lorrie

    Where is the HSUS? Shouldn't they be spending some of their millions to help out here?

    July 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  19. lisa

    I am so sick of hearing about these kill shelters down south. Send the dogs up north where we realize $1 a week will more than cover the cost of feeding a dog and we actually pay our taxes

    July 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  20. big don

    Most intelligent and helpful post out of all these posts is the one which asks if this pet facility will take contributions via PAYPAL.. If so, there should be tons of instant contributions....

    July 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  21. Rick

    who cares? There is more to be worried about with all of this!

    July 15, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  22. Laurie

    Randi, thank you for the story but for the most part, I think this is an excuse by irresponsible pet owners. It does not cost a fortune to feed or house a pet. If a pet is a family member, you don't dump them because they are an inconvenience or because it is another mouth to feed. When ones owns a pet, this is what they sign up for. Shame on them for using the oil spill as an excuse for abandoning a pet.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  23. Schuenator

    Using helpless abandoned animals and your kindhearted readers to keep the BP story going? Well played CNN.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  24. Dianne

    Very sad. I'd go without food before I'd give up any of my three dogs, but I no longer have children to have to take care of. If every person reading these comments or that has seen this story would make a donation of $5.00 to the Louisiana SPCA it would go a long way to help feed these pets. I agree that BP should step up to the plate and help these animals as they are just members of a family. It breaks my heart to see them in a shelter where they don't know wha they've done to deserve being put in a cage. Hopefully other shelters around the USA will step up and take some of them.

    If more people would adopt shelter dogs and stop buying dogs from expensive breeders the situation at shelters would not be so bad. Shelter dogs are AWESOME. All of mine are from shelters and/or rescues and I'd be more than happy to adopt one of these dogs if there is a way to get it to me.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  25. Leona, San Diego, CA

    Randi, thank you for bringing this sad story to our attention. This just breaks my heart. Please ask the people who work at this shelter and others who work in the shelters affected by the oil spill to contact Best Friends Animal Society, in Kanab, Utah. They helped rescue pets during Hurricane Katrina, and might be able to help with these poor pets, or find another shelter or rescue group to rescue them, so they can be adopted into good and loving homes.

    July 15, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
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