Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned is a 2008 non-fiction book written by author and journalist Cathy Scott that documents the writer's experience embedded with Best Friends Animal Society triage center to rescue lost animals in the Gulf region and reunite them with their people. More than 200 stories with accompanying art by photographer Clay Myers detail rescues, examinations, treatment, reunions, and follow-up care by volunteers from all walks of life caring for other people's pets. The book, with a foreword by Ali MacGraw, actor and animal welfare activist, was released in August 2008 on the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Scott, who stayed on the Gulf Coast for four months to document the largest animal rescue in U.S. history, was a featured author at the 2008 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., reading from Pawprints of Katrina on the National Mall.
The book begins on September 11, 2005, at a freeway off-ramp used as a boat launch, with New York City Parks Enforcement (Search & Rescue Team) Department's Captain Scott Shields, famous for the courageous efforts of his search-and-rescue dog, Bear, at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
An excerpt from that chapter describes the moment: "Before we set out on a boat to look for stranded pets, the captain asked us to take a moment to remember those lost on 9/11. There, standing amidst the rubble of Hurricane Katrina with the black water just a few feet from us, we bowed our heads, and not a sound was heard. No cars. No lawnmowers. No birds. No planes. No trains. No voices. Not even the couple of dogs rescued and then tied with leashes to the off-ramp railing, awaiting transport, uttered a sound. It was as if, at that brief but somber point in time, they, too, acknowledged the loss of life. It was a poignant moment, observing those lost in the largest terrorist attack on American soil while we were in the thick of rescuing animals in the wake of the biggest natural disaster in U.S. history. The Crescent City was devoid of life, except for those of us out rescuing that day and, of course, the animals left behind."
An example of rescues featured in the book is Himie, a Rottweiler, dubbed the "message-in-a-bottle dog," found with a plastic bottle tied to his collar holding Himie's eye medication and a note from his person, with whom he was later reunited. Also in the book was the saga of Red, a partially paralyzed pit-bull terrier, who was hospitalized for almost three months after surgery, fitted with a special dog wheelchair, and eventually adopted out. Red's story and adoption was covered by CNN's Anderson Cooper. The story of Bubba, a longhaired gray cat whose displaced guardian drove 10 hours in a rented car to retrieve his cat, was featured by NBC's "Dateline."
Critical reception and awards
Reviewer Steve Donoghue noted, in Open Letters: A Monthly Arts and Literature Review, "...this will certainly be the definitive account of Katrina animal rescue."
The Canada Free Press wrote that "Pawprints of Katrina tells the inspiring story of the fate of the abandoned pets, some ending in tragedy, many in against-all-odds happy endings."
Book Hound's review said, "An experienced rescuer herself, Scott conducted amphibious reporting on the ground and in boats, so her book makes you feel like a firsthand witness to history, as animals are saved and the lucky ones get to be reunited with their people."
Book reviewer Justin Moyer with Washington City Paper recommended the book on his Katrina reading list, saying, "This book's for you.". It also made the Sacramento Public Library's "Suggested Reading List" for 2010.
Photographer Myers was awarded "Best Spot News Photo Coverage" from the Nevada Press Association for the book's cover photo, which was included in a first-person account from the Gulf Coast by author Scott in Las Vegas CityLife.
- Howell Book House (Wiley) book page
- Amazon's book page
- Author's official site
- Photographer Clay Myers' official site
- Pawprints of Katrina Facebook page
- ↑ Featured speaker, 2008 National Book Festival
- ↑ CNN, "Hurricane Katrina: Six Months Later," February 27, 2006
- ↑ Best Friends news site, "Dateline in the reuniting business," September 15, 2005
- ↑ Open Letters Monthly, "Review: Pawprints of Katrina," June 20, 2008 (scroll down)
- ↑ Canada Free Press "Pawprints of Katrina will leave pawprints on your heart," July 19, 2008
- ↑ Book Hound review, "Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned," June 2, 2008
- ↑ Washington CityPaper, ArtsDesk, "Three Katrina Books Recommended," September 22, 2009
- ↑ Sacramento Public Library, "One Book Sacramento," 2010
- ↑ Las Vegas Review-Journal, "Nevada Press Association winners," September 17, 2006
- ↑ Las Vegas CityLife, "Pet project: Local author and freelance journalist finds her calling on the Gulf Coast," October 22, 2005
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