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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. Jen, Bartlesville OK

    Relief is possible. Someone needs to get a website together quickly (before the animals could be euthanized) displaying facts, needs, and contacts, and post the link if CNN allows. If not, other sources of media need to be used to publicize the need for people who could even so much as foster these animals or volunteer time to help with the upkeep at these shelters. People might be blocked from helping at oil clean-up sites, and that is tragic in itself, but at least in this way the good citizens have a way of helping offset some of this overall disaster.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:02 am |
  2. tereza

    i would like to say how terrible is this situation. But, a pet owner should never give up their pets, in any situation. They are in good health, so way worry now if they dont have money for vet or so. All they need now is the love ' s owners and some food. And few pounds of pet food is not that expensive....The is so many ways to solve this problem like ask PB for money support, join all owners together asking for the help of a good soul, rich person, pets lover, to help them. i think those pet owners do not really love their pets...i feel so sorry for them.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:01 am |
  3. Ahmed Tooti

    Sorry....but people have to understand that pets are a luxury. While sad, how about worrying about children in the gulf states who don't have enough to eat more than how are all these dogs going to get food?

    Priorities people.....

    Yes, it would be nice if we all were millionaires and could afford everything we want, but to subsidize pet care with my hard earned tax money just pisses me off.

    July 15, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  4. Leona Heraty-San Diego, CA

    Oops, sorry for the misspelled word. I meant Hurricane Katrina. 🙂

    July 15, 2010 at 12:52 am |
  5. Mary smith

    Heartbreaking yes, but....you wouldn't give your kids away during hard times, so why would you do it to your pets who are also part of your family??

    July 15, 2010 at 12:47 am |
  6. Julia

    Lousy excuses! Would you give up your child for adoption because you've lost your job? Pets don't cost much, they are not picky. You can cook their food at home. Shame, shame, shame!

    July 15, 2010 at 12:36 am |
  7. Hollee - New York

    Randi, thank-you for covering the story on the animals, it touched my heart and I hope it will effect others in the same way so that all of them will find homes. Looking forward to hearing a follow-up on how many are rescued.

    July 15, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  8. Sam, Alaska

    Come on people, lets donate to help these pets. Even if we anty up $5.00 a piece, it could help feed them. If we do just one thing to help, helping to feed an innocent pup that isnt to blame for any of this mess, is the right thing to do. Cant we do without that one morning mocha at the coffee shop to help?

    July 15, 2010 at 12:29 am |
  9. Nancy Kaye

    Anderson Cooper really seemed to bond with the adorable black puppy he was holding named Finnegan. Is there any way Anderson can adopt him and bring him back to New York? I'm sure his other dog Mollie would love the company.

    Anderson has a huge heart and could give Finnegan a wonderful life. And Randi could also adopt a puppy to keep her cat company. It would mean so much to the animals.

    July 15, 2010 at 12:24 am |
  10. Cynthia Pittman

    Are they going to offer these animals up for adoption in other states? I think they did that with some of the Katrina pets....If they will ship to Virginia, I'll take them all!!

    July 15, 2010 at 12:14 am |
  11. Patricia Earnhardt Tyndall

    I simply do not understand why the animals are having to be surrendered if they are indeed the result of the spill. If people cannot afford to care for their animals because they have lost jobs due to the disaster in the Gulf, then BP should be supplying every single one of those families what they need to care for their families and keep their pets. This is an outrage. Please continue this story and find out if families have really given up their pets due to the spill and if so why BP has not been asked or not given the money to help these families. If nothing else the SPCA should file the claim with BP and not kill these animals. Thank you for sharing the story.

    July 15, 2010 at 12:07 am |
  12. Amanda Foley

    Thank you for educating us viewers on how this is affecting our helpless pets. I own two labs and this article kills me. I did a film on the crisis of animal control shelters and this jus tops it all! Good Job!

    July 15, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  13. MLS

    This is such a heartbreaking story. I am in tears reading it... can't the shelter contact Animal Planet channel on tv or the ASPCA or Humane Society to try and see what resources they can bring to bear to help out these poor families and innocent helpless animals that did nothing to deserve this? Can't the animals be taken to other states to be adopted out? There has to be something that can be done. I wish there was some way I could adopt them all but that's not possible.
    CNN, please help the shelters find a way to save these 4-legged angels.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  14. Debra Rysdyk

    Thank you for airing this. Too many times we are (the public) sheltered from seeing what becomes of these poor animals who are the first to be discarded when human lives become disrupted by disaster. Would we dispose of our human children? BP must take responsible for these forgotten animals. They must not be put down. They are far too precious.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  15. Leslie McCall

    It is so sad to hear about this in the gulf area too. It is tragic what has happened in the gulf but is the answer to keep drilling for the sake of jobs? Not only do we run the risk of another environmental disaster, but the loss of lives and a continued dependence on oil.

    Here in Michigan we have been dealing with people having to give up their pets because we have lost so many jobs. These loss of jobs caused a domino affect to families losing their homes and having to give up their pets. I experienced this when searching for a shelter animal to adopt this January. Shelter after shelter had animals being brought in daily because of the job loss in our state. We may not have had a disaster like in the gulf, but our job loss has been great and has affected many families and animals alike.

    The disaster in our state was man made as well....Americans buying foreign products and our government shipping jobs all over our country out of our country. We all need to help each other and unfortunately that is not the case.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
  16. criss

    a lot more dogs could be adopted if shelters didn't have all this stupid rules, my husband and i both love dogs and tried 3 different times to adopt from our local humane society but because both of us work we are not allowed to adopt a puppy. i refuse to pay for an animal because there should not be a price for any live being i was lucky enough to find a puppy that someone received as a gift and could not care for her she has been more than a pet she is our only child and could not imagine not having her with us.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
  17. connie

    didnt BP just give the people check's ??? if there eating. why cant they feed the pets ????

    July 14, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
  18. Nancy Seagal

    Thank you for doing this story.
    I hope all these animals are adopted or taken to a no-kill shelter.

    Humans have a choice.
    Now, because of BP's choice....
    The pet owners weren't given much of a choice.
    and the animals have NO choice, ultimately they may die....because of BP's choice.

    It's time BP step up to the plate and make the right choice of supporting these shelters and not to let these animals die in vain.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:39 pm |
  19. Sara

    After watching this heartbreaking segment, I posted the info on my facebook page, with a link to the shelter. My hope is to have people re-post, and hopefully it will find people out there who are in a position to donate. This is all so sad.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  20. connie

    that is crazy. why are theses people giving up there pets ??? they havent lost there homes. no oil on the pets. sounds like they just wanna make some money off BP. talk about heartless people. how could anyone do such a thing. for a fast buck. i feel so sorry for the pets. NOT the people. if you can feed yourself. you can feed your pet. no excuse.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  21. stella

    I couldn't help but share your story with my friends, I already went to la-spca website & I hope my friends will too. Thank you again for the story, loved it

    July 14, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  22. Wanda Breeden

    I feel so sorry for what is happening in these states. I just lost my 19 year old baby dog. He was our family pet for all these years and it was devasting to have him put to sleep. We cry everyday for him. These people who had to give up their pets will miss them for some time to come. I would be willing to adapt a small white poodle anytime. If there is anything I can do to get one just let me know.

    Thank you

    July 14, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  23. Jarred

    This is so sad, I seriously cannot imagine having to give up my dogs, it would literally destroy me. We are going through foreclosure right now due to the fact I was unemployed for 15 months, and that was the biggest heartbreaker was even thinking that the possibility would come where I had to give them up. I would go hungry before I let my pets.

    This is so sad. Can we donate to help these poor pets?

    July 14, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  24. Lauren Lewandowski

    Thank you Randi for reporting on this heartbreaking situation. I wanted to get in my car, drive to LA, and adopt a dog. Instead, I made a donation on the la-spca website. I hope that other people will too, if they have the means. Little things do add up! Thanks again Randi, good work 🙂

    July 14, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  25. bronwyn

    How can we get in touch about adopting some of these pets? My mom has a loving home waiting for one!

    July 14, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  26. cari

    Thank You Anderson and Randi! Anderson we are big fans and are so greatful for your coverage of the oil spill-it feels as if you guys are the only ones "keeping them honest". Can't some of the pet food companies help out these families? I know there are relief organizations that help pets during natural disasters so maybe they can help these families to stay together. I will contact a local shelter to see if they can make some room for some pets. I know NY did it for Katrina so maybe we can for this. I am thinking about panda-sooo cute! Thanks again for bringing awareness! Cari W

    July 14, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  27. Grant

    BP will support this shelter after the public floods their phone lines and website over this issue. These poor animals need our immediate attention and care.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  28. Holly

    Once I saw this story, I ran to my computer and looked up the website for LA SPCA. I am very frustrated because I was not able to access the "adoptable animals" page. You'd think that this organization would make the adoption process as smooth as possible in the hopes of sparing the lives of these helpless animals.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  29. janet

    why doesn't cnn do something to help these poor animals? after all, you have a vast public. why not ask people to donate money specifically targeted at supplying the animals with the food/vet services they need and therefore let them go back to their families – or be adoped by people who would be willing to if some of the animal's needs were met. to euthanize them is cruel and unusual punishment. I really don't know how we can claim to be a humane, moral country when practices like euthanization exist.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
  30. stella

    I loved this story, thank you for letting us know how to help. The little puppy that anderson was holding is adorable!!!!!

    July 14, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  31. Che' Lyons

    I really think Anderson should keep Finnigan. They seemed to be bonding and the puppy looked to calm in Anderson's arm.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  32. Sheila

    This is just so heart breaking. For the animals as well as the owners. More is also coming. When the migratory birds hit the coast in the fall on their trek south a lot more will die as they land on the oil slick Gulf of Mexico. Many of these are already endangered species. This is just so tragic and it should never have happened. All this suffering because BP cut corners.

    Can someone not establish a fund and publish it so that people can donate and assist these families. BP isn't going to do it if they aren't forced too. They are too busy trying to save their own hides. They have created one huge mess that just keeps cascading.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  33. CC

    Being poor is no excuse to drop a member of a family. Our dogs suffer with us through good and bad.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  34. paula barrett

    Would it be possible for this reporter to contact BP and ask they make a goodwill gesture by returning these pets to owners with vouchers for food and vets? (If nothing else it would be a good PR situation for them)These pictures are breaking my heart.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  35. Donna

    I hate to say this but this is all over and been going on too long.. the Oil spill is just one of many contributors to the economy and what is and has been happening to family pets. People are going as far to dump them out in rural areas to fend for themselves ( I have 9 now I'm caring for on my farm) because shelters are full, guaranteeing Euthanasia to make space, but I admit some others are just hearltess and won't make the effort to re-home the animal that depended on them so much ...this economy is killing us, our families and our pets... BP needs to cover all the bases for their mess and clean up, not just put a cap on it and go away... and our government needs to step up and help all who are hurting with the economy, not who they pick and choose or the fat walleted bailed out banker.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  36. Alicia Farnum

    How can I help? Can I adopt a cat or 2?

    July 14, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  37. D. Weaver

    Can the dogs and cats be sent to other parts of the USA to find homes?
    I know that other cities and towns in New York would probably take some of these animals and find loving homes for them. Other parts of the country have not suffered like the Gulf has, and people there would be more able to care for a new pet. The pound should reach out for help
    to no-kill shelters around our country. There are many good, compassionate Americans who would love to adopt!

    July 14, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  38. Jen

    This is just tragic for all concerned. I can't imagine having to give my pup up for financial reasons, no matter what, but I suppose if there were a bad enough situation, I might have no choice. I pray that there will be help forthcoming to help keep these pets with the families who love them.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  39. karyn gramata

    Please let us know how to adopt or become foster parents until the original owners are back on their feet.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  40. Sanibelle

    Thanks Randi for a story about these, the most innocent victims of BP. It just breaks my heart. We just adopted our dog in November from the high kill Miami Dade shelter. Many wonderful people belong to organizations that work together to bring these abandoned animals to areas of the country where they have a better chance of being adopted. BP should step up to the plate and absorb the costs involved and just maybe there will be a happy ending for some if not all of these forgotten pets.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
  41. sugarmama

    This site won't let me post the links, but someone should be publicizing the programs that are being implemented to help out-of-work fishermen keep their pets. The LA-SPCA has programs to help with veterinary care, and there are at least three groups that are distributing donated pet food to those affected by the spill.

    The really big problem is going to come when these folks start losing their homes and they have to move to places where they won't be allowed to have pets, especially larger dogs. At that point, it's going to get much, much worse.

    BP should be paying for all of their collateral damage, including this.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  42. Lynette Rizzo

    Please let me know how we can adopt these animals!

    July 14, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  43. John DiGilio

    There has to be something someone can do to save these animals. How can pets that once knew love and a home can be just 2 – 4 weeks from being euthanized? It just hurts to know this!

    July 14, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  44. Cactus

    I have just taken in a stray kitten, to add to my collection of four adult cats and one dog. I don't need another cat, but shelters in south Florida are still overwhelmed from storms of a few years ago, and I don't think he'd have much chance of adoption. I am also going to adopt another dog, as my one dog needs a canine companion. All my pets were homeless, or offspring of homeless parents. I'm glad I can afford to take good care of them and have time to spend with them.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  45. Samantha Rowley - Nashville, TN

    Thanks Randi for the great report! My heart breaks for these "friends" of ours. Once this is shown on AC360 tonight, my hope is that maybe a no-kill shelter or group will come forward to get these animals and take them somewhere else. I've heard of animals being taken to other states for this reason.

    July 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  46. Katherine Cummins

    After reading this article, it is heartbreaking to hear of more sufferings trickling down from the oil spill in the gulf. To the innocent animals whose owners can not afford to keep them anymore due to the catastrophic event the oil spill has caused leaving many people in the gulf in economic ruin, I find this to be real tragedy that the devastation of the oil spill is causing such a horrific chain reaction and it seems after reading this it is only getting worse than better. Wish there was more BP, the government, city officials, and united states citizens can do in helping these poor animals and people. How can we let this happen in our own backyard?

    July 14, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  47. Kim

    Take him home and the one with US flag too !

    July 14, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
  48. Meg

    For more information about this wonderful program to keep pets in their homes please go to http://www.la-spca.org/gulfcoastrelief

    July 14, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
  49. Annie Kate

    I don't know who to feel more compassion for – the pets or the poor owners who had to give them up hoping they would be adopted by someone who could care for them and love them, yet knowing they might be signing their death warrant. The owners did the responsible thing and I don't know if I would be able to give up my cats. I hope the pets get adopted. Is there any way that the shelter can work with other shelters to transfer the pets to other shelters that are no-kill shelters and would give the animals more time to be adopted? I hope so...

    July 14, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
  50. BettyAnn, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hello Randi!
    As if there were not enough homeless pets whose lives are in vain. What a sad event to have to turn in a beloved four legged family member to a shelter.
    Thank you for this awareness report! You are awesome Randi! I hope these best friends find the home they deserve.
    I hope BP get what they deserve also.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
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