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. Brianne

    Where can we donate to? Is there a website or mailing address?

    July 15, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
  2. Naomi Siemens

    I'll take Panda in a heartbeat.

    I just tear up when I see this. I feel for everyone, but for me a pet is a lifetime commitment. But for the owners, I am glad they had the heart to take them to a shelter rather than turn them loose to heaven knows what.

    July 15, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  3. Mary Smith

    I would love to donate food and supplies for these dogs to take and move back to their homes!
    I have a rescue dog-best decision I have ever made.
    I think Anderson should adopt the puppy he had last night, they bonded well!!

    July 15, 2010 at 11:39 am |
  4. Mary R - St. Petersburg, FL

    Thank you so much for this report. I volunteer at a shelter in the Tampa Bay area and have seen firsthand the results of our bad economy with families no longer able to care for their pets. I think part of the problem is that too many vets are charging too much for routine services. $200-$400 for an annual exam and vaccinations is just plain crazy...and heaven help you if your pet needs medical care beyond that (as they all do, especially as they get older). I would love to adopt a second dog but with my husband losing his job and my thriving-before-September 2009 online retail business just about dead, we just can't afford it. Last spring we had to take our parrot and dog to the vet a couple of weeks apart. Two visits (one per animal). No extraordinary tests. No overnight stays. $1,000 combined bill. I realize animal hospital personnel need to make a living, too, but lower costs at the vet would be a start in helping people to keep their pets in times of financial distress.

    July 15, 2010 at 11:25 am |
  5. Mary Quirk

    As hard as it was for you the person Randi, I think the journalist you did a very good job. It is hard to separate yourself out. I am hopin g that someone who reads this will instigate a removal-to-adoption program of some kind. Sometime last year, here in middle Tennessee a shelter put out the word that it would be closing for good and every single animal plus more that were brought in were adopted by the end of the day on Sunday. If the information goes out to the right people, then we the people can make a difference for those that cannont help themselves. Thanks

    July 15, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  6. Lesley

    It disgusts me to hear that at the first sign of financial distress, the first thing to go is the family pet. Some have had them since birth and have had them for years and they just ditch them??? Would you do that to your child?? People of Louisiana, hear this.....there are options. Food banks for animals exist. EXHAUST all options before being so quickly to discard. BP Is paying so make due with what you get. I'm tired of animals not having the same rights and protection as children. Grow up!

    July 15, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  7. Karen Chilton

    Show photos soon–so we can adopt or even sponsor some.

    July 15, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  8. Susan Martinez

    Thank you Randi and Anderson for bringing this story to us. It is true we don't think about the impact this oil disaster has had on domestic animals. What sweet dogs and cats. I think there was some bonding going on between Anderson and the black puppy!Would it be possible to have an update on this story ? I hope these animals will be placed in new homes. I plan to visit the website that was given. Thank you again. Best, Susan

    July 15, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  9. aldo

    Bill BP , they have to pay for this animals

    July 15, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  10. Cindy

    How can i adopt one of these dogs? I'm from Michigan.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:56 am |
  11. Brenda Lebby

    I don't understand why BP isn't taking any action to help these families keep their pets. If this is a direct result from loss of income due to the oil spill, BP needs to set up some kind of fund to assist these families with pet food and veterinary care. It's terribly traumatic, especially for children who don't always understand financial limitations, to loose a member of the family this way. To have to take your pet to a shelter where you know that it's most likely going to die is just heartbreaking.

    I hope the SPCA alerts BP to this situation and demands some help for these families.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  12. Beverly Straus

    How terrible, for people who are already under unimaginable stress, to have to relinquish beloved pets. Please visit the Louisiana SPCA's website and contribute to their companion animal program.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  13. lisa jensen

    This is very sad... for both animal owner and their pets. I cannot even imagine having to give up my pets. These people and their pets are just another casualty of BP and greed. Yes, they should have to give whatever amount to help these people keep their pets. This should not be happening to our people, pets, animals, land, country, or ocean. If BP will not help... couldn't some or all of the pet food companies donate food for these people to keep their animals at home, where they belong? And the vets, couldn't they give free care to the people who are affected by this crisis? These people have lost their jobs, for most the only way of life they know, they cannot pay their bills, and can barely put food on the table. To be forced to give away their beloved pets, in hopes that they will be adopted and be taken care of, better than what they themselves can provide at this point, is just another blow from BP. I know for a fact that when I am stressed or upset, my pets provide a great comfort to me. Someone, anyone please help these people keep their pets! Exactly how much do these victims have to take or sacrifice? This is AMERICA! To stand by and just watch these people lose everything is just wrong. What happened to neighbor helping neighbor... no matter the distance? The pride in helping people get back on their feet when a crisis is occurring? This goes deeper than just losing their pets, these people.. VICTIMS are losing everything in their lives, and no one is doing a damn thing about it. I am a proud American... but slowly... little by little... story after story... I am becoming more ashamed than proud. I do not think I am alone.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  14. Joanaroo

    Thanks to the corporate greed culture, we're seeing the Gulf ruined, sealife dying and now companion animals that may lose their lives because of BP's greed, stupidity and lack of a heart and conscience. BP should be forced to set up a fund to save all the pets relinquished. I don't want a single animal euthanized! Rather, I think since we have enough greedy oil execs, bribed inspectors and bought politicians, it is they who should be euthanized! If we allow animals to be euthanized because of corporate greed, then it's a sad day for this lousy country!

    July 15, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  15. Mimi Smith

    Thank you for this great but heartbreaking report. Those of us who love animals should contact no-kill shelters– like Best Friends or the ASPCA– that we know of or donate to. They have rescued many animals during Katrina and subsequent natural disasters. Many states now have laws in place to help these innocent victims,

    July 15, 2010 at 10:22 am |
  16. Dianna Howell

    As an animal lover this story is heart breaking! What can we do to help save the lives of these pets and/or help reunite them with their families?

    July 15, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  17. John Locke

    I've looked for the video of this story, but can't locate it. I saw it this morning on American Morning and it was really powerful. If CNN will post it, I will send the link to everyone I know along with a plea for contributions to LA-SPCA.org

    July 15, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  18. Christie Weller

    Can we find a way to help? Petfinder has lots of non kill shelters and some will come to the kill shelter and pick them up so they have more time. I know there are many more. CNN may be able to help by featuring a pet or tow or three each nite. Once Anderson touches them it's gold. He could sign the dogs papers too. Please lets try to help. I have 3 rescues and they are healthy and the best souls ever.
    Love to the Gulf people.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  19. maymay

    First maybe you can put all these pics to music like on tv with sara Mc. Put in vidio. put up easy contact info for adoption or donations.
    Secondly, these owners have to be starving because that is the only way i would give up my cat or dog. u can always buy very cheap dogfood at a dollor store or share what is on ur plate. Better then lonlyness, being torn from family and better then killing. BP is suppose to cover all damage from oil spill so send them a bill and send a copy to the gov. Thanks to the people that care.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  20. Deanna

    How sad. I could never give my pet up to a shelter that I know is a kill shelter. I could never give my animal a death sentence like that. I hope BP pays out the butt for this!!!

    July 15, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  21. Andrea - Maple Glen, PA

    There should be a foster care system set up to move these dogs and cats relay style across the country to homes where they can be either adopted or fostered while looking for a permanent home. I'm sure there are plenty of areas in the country where people would be more than willing to adopt these poor animals. In the meantime BP should have to give money for their perpetual care until these permanent homes can be found.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  22. lisa

    I hope that some of these animals will be sent to other states in hope of finding homes. I adopted my last best friend and I always encourage others to do the same. I feel bad for the family who is forced to be in this situation.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  23. Karen

    Does the shelter accept dontations through PayPal

    July 15, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  24. Donna Patnode

    Randi, fantastic reporting. I too have heard of groups that will rescue animals and get them to other states for new homes. I have just lost my dog of 17 years a month ago and our dear little "friends" truly get us through so much in life. I hope a group who knows how to do this will organize this effort.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:23 am |
  25. Suzi Phyfer

    This breaks my heart and is another example of how this disaster has affected the lives of so many in the gulf. I will be reposting this and asking people to share.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:20 am |
  26. Oswaldo

    All the suffering thanks to some rich dudes that want to make more money. WE HAVE the technology to replace oil in our technological loves but greed doesn´t allow the groups of power to use them. They block them again and again. When will people wake up?

    July 15, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  27. Elizabeth

    This is horrible! When will this nightmare end? I feel for those families that must make the choice between feeding their children or their pets. But BP should be in there footing the bills at the shelters and also providing assistance to those pet parents, so their pets can stay at home where they belong. I hope that this and all other shelter will extend the time that they can stay alive....one would think that under these dire circumstances provisions would be made to save as many as possible, in the hopes things turn around and the owners come back for their pets.
    Maybe there should be a foster pet system set-up in these areas to provide temporary care....

    July 15, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  28. Janet

    Surely, there are enough no-kill shelters around other states in the south who can take these animals in until a home is found for them. The media needs to step up and get this story out to the masses! Anyone reading this story, please, please forward it along to the no-kill shelters in your area!

    July 15, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  29. Anna Pippin

    How does one out of town go about adopting these animals?

    July 15, 2010 at 7:30 am |
  30. Sandy Harder

    We saw your story on TV last night and felt heartbroken for these pets and their families. We live in the Mid-west. What can people here do to help? Their are so many families that would easily give these animals homes. Are their any programs to try to locate these animals around the US?

    July 15, 2010 at 6:16 am |
  31. Mo

    will they give up the kids too?

    July 15, 2010 at 4:49 am |
  32. Suenell

    It tears me up inside seeing & thinking of all those poor creatures inside a shelter. Have people become so stupid and/or lazy that they can't cut back on luxuries, to get back to basics to survive? I've been so poor that I couldn't afford dog food but I could buy rice & beans to feed my family & our family pets! We always managed to survive even getting to the point of not having a phone but we made it. I just wish there was a way to stop these poor animals from having unwanted litters. It all comes down to stupidity & laziness. There's always a way to a better life for all of us if only we would all try to make it better, not just a few of us struggling against the onslaught.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:46 am |
  33. Leatrice Tolls

    Post Katrina I donated supplies to a vetmobile from Cleveland that went to help w/ animal rescue . I would love to adopt one of these dogs.. is it possible any rescues are heading back w/ some again ? I lost my 18 yr old Kaiyut a year ago.. I'm ready for another .. let me know if we can somehow help... TY for the hard real work.. BP should be paying for this also...

    July 15, 2010 at 3:21 am |
  34. Joe

    Come on, really? This sounds more like a convenient excuse to abandon animals to me.

    Look, I realize pet care isn't free. Food, vaccinations, and checkups cost money, but these animals have a much better chance of survival and quality of life by staying with their owners - their families. It's easier to find food than to find a HOME. I would dig scraps out of the dumpsters before I gave up my animal, even if I was homeless.

    I realize it's not easy, that people didn't *choose* to have their livelihoods taken away, and in fact it may be necessary for people to give up their animals in limited situations. I get it. But in my opinion, if you took on the responsibility of caring for an animal, then that's a responsibility you can't shrug off just because things are tough. If you still have a roof over your head (and your pet's) then abandoning it is the WRONG choice.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:14 am |
  35. Daniel Botts

    I live in VA and would love to give one of these animals a second chance. Do I have to drive to Louisiana to adopt or is there a relocation program for these animals. I know my 9 year old rottie is one of my children and i could not put my kid down.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:10 am |
  36. Kelly Nelson

    If someone is interested in adopting or fostering one of these pets, how would they go about doing so?

    July 15, 2010 at 3:10 am |
  37. Yvette Forrest


    July 15, 2010 at 3:10 am |
  38. Cody Ft. Hood, TX

    BP took away the peace of mind of many families. My feeling is: They should restore that piece of mind. Where be it a bag of dog or cat food, or if somebody needs Mental Heath care. That is BP's responsibility at this point in the disaster. They have stepped up to the plate (sort-of). I want to see an Advertisement/ or News article on TV that states what aid they are willing to provide to those affected.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:58 am |
  39. William

    I hope more people will join in adopting these pets from oil stricken families. I regular take my dogs to the Cottonwood Dog Park in Cottonwood AZ and 95% of the dogs at that dog park are rescue dogs. These dogs are fantastic and good natured. I amazed at how well they fit in with their new owners. The Cottonwood Dog Park has proved to me that rescue dogs will adjust to their new owners and will become a great companion if given a chance.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:45 am |
  40. Ed Reilly

    Yesterday,spent three hours at Wisconsin Humane Society here in Milwaukee, trying to find an appropriate dog to adopt after having recently put my fourth Yellow Lab to "Sleep" due three years of CA and great Vet's care finally metasticized to point of fourth and "end" stage....after reading this am off to New Orleans tomorrow or Friday (Airline retiree so free on pass) to bring some happiness to one of our "friends", its former owner, and myself!
    Above comment re. some shelters take from other states is right on...Wisconsin Humane Society DOES scour many other states for animals otherwise destined for death!

    July 15, 2010 at 2:20 am |
  41. lisa gale

    Thank you for bringing this story into the light. All animals are a gift from God to us. They give unconditional love. All they want and deserve is to be loved and respected. If I could, I would take care of all of them. BP is greed. BP should be held completely responsible for this and should make this right. The WH should enforce it (not when they get around to it, but Now). Please continue to keep these stories alive. Pray for Mother Earth and all that love Her.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:19 am |
  42. Kim P.

    I work with a non-profit (501-c3) rescue group on the west coast, and we have the opportunity to work with a major pet corporation to host a 3-day adoption event in September. If there's a way to get some of the animals out of Louisiana and transported to us here, we would love to help find homes for some of those unfortunate pets.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:10 am |
  43. Dave

    Randi-what a beautifully, sad, touching piece. The depth of sadness in their eyes was haunting. The notion of the despair of the families– having to make a terrible decision about their truest of friends-in such a time of emotional stress(when the unconditional love of animals is most needed in human lives) is truly heartbreaking.

    Thank you and Anderson for raising our awareness of these other casualties of the tragedy of the oil spill-and like you said "without a drop of oil directly on them". I hope and pray that somehow, a very wealthy person will see or hear about your piece and find it in their heart to contribute enough to have their owners reclaim their friends. Somehow, I don't see this touching the hearts of the upper BP management–please let me be wrong about them for once.

    How about Warren Buffet or Bill Gates and his wife-can we get this story to them?

    July 15, 2010 at 2:09 am |
  44. Karen Swift

    Is there any way to identify the original owners and donate funds to allow them to reclaim their pets-Funds to pay for the pets' food and occasional vet check ups. Sort of an "adopt the owner" rather than "adopt the pet". Of course we want to find a way to keep the animals alive long enough for adoption by others; but what about getting them back to the people who first loved and cared for them? It's not just the pets who are heart-broken.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:01 am |
  45. donna jaffke

    Due to the economy other shelters are full too. The food for your pet does have to come after the food for your kids. I hope that people around the country will start adopting dogs instead of buying them in pet shops. I don't know that I could turn my dog into a shelter knowing that it might be killed. It costs so much to have your animals see a vet. I think that doctors and vets are so into the money that they can't let themselves see that they are part of the problem not the solution.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:00 am |
  46. Frank

    This is terrible. These are not just pets these are family members who are dependent upon their owners for love and comfort now suddenly finding themselves without a familiar face in a strange place not knowing they may have only three weeks. Still waiting for a familiar face, a gentle hand to return for them. I am glad CNN reported this. The more people who know the best the better the chances are for these pets. Please anyone reading this send money to Louisiana SPCA so pets can remain and be returned to their homes, contact your local veterinary clinic to see if there are people who would adopt these wonderful little souls. Then write Congress and demand the people responsible at BP or MMS face criminal prosecution

    July 15, 2010 at 1:54 am |
  47. Li-an

    watched the report awhile ago. Great story, most would have never seized this angle that is just as important. it's disturbing how many of these perfectly healthy, loving, erstwhile household members have to be put down just because their adoption deadline is up.

    i'm sure many other animal lovers from other states who want and can afford another pet would adopt most of these. 3 weeks just isn't enough.

    Yup, BP should foot the food and vet bills of the affected pets.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:48 am |
  48. tracey stephenson

    I want one of the kittens or cats that can't stay with their humans. A lady who works with me just lost her cat today. Big fat guy! But as all animal lovers, she was in love and is heart broken. So let's do a match up. What do I need to do to get her him or her here?

    July 15, 2010 at 1:40 am |
  49. Allen

    The bar for getting an animal has been set so ridiculously low that any human with a pulse can get one. Then when they have some trouble, guess who ends up at a shelter. And guess who has to care for them. Then when they can't find a home, guess who has to euthanize them. NOT the human owner.
    Stop backyard breeding . Raise the bar for taking responsibility for an animal. You will stop needless animal cruelty, suffering, and shelters will have less euthanising to do.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:35 am |
  50. S. Cottrell

    This is the time for the Humane Society to get into their deep – very deep pockets and get out there and fund these shelters or community programs to help at the grass roots level where it is immediately realized instead of spending it all on lobbying DC et al. I am sick of these organizations not stepping up when they are most needed. Here's something decent for PETA to get behind for a change.. Animal food bank should not be that hard to fund or organize. The shelters need the funding assistance also because not all of these pets are there because they cannot be fed – some owners have also lost their residences and so it flows. IF PETA really cared about how the animals are being treated they would put their money into helping out instead of campaigning and lobbying to take away everyone's right to have such companions. These are the times the real heros shine – I hope everyone is watching.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:28 am |
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