I intended to look back today. After all, we have an important anniversary to reflect upon.
But then, along with millions of people, my eye has been riveted on those eerie weather maps that show Gustav churning up the sea and bearing down on the Gulf Coast. My thoughts are propelled in another direction.
© The HSUS
One of the tens of thousands of pets left behind in Katrina.
I think of the thousands of anxious families who face the possibility of another howling, capricious blow from nature. And of course, my heart goes out to them—and my hopes too. What I hope is that they have plans to take care of everyone in the family. What I mean, of course, is that untold thousands of innocent dogs and cats and other pets in Gustav’s path will not be left behind to face what they can never fathom.
Disasters underscore an important thing in our relationship with companion animals: We assume great responsibility when we bring them in our lives. They are helpless in the face of a hurricane. Humans are not. We can move out of the way. We need to make sure that our pets come along—every one of them.
Three years ago Katrina tore apart a city. But that’s an impersonal way of reflecting on it. Close up, it tore apart family after family. Some still haven’t recovered. Others never will. That’s today’s sad anniversary. Our institutions were not strong enough. Our laws were silent on the subject. We were not prepared as a nation.
What I wanted to do today was write about being on the scene soon after the hurricane. I wanted to write about being touched by suffering on a scale that staggered my mind. More important, I wanted to write about how we at The HSUS have helped to strengthen the animal care institutions in the Gulf Coast. I wanted to write about the revision of law that is aimed at holding people and animals together. I wanted to write and express my hope that our society has grown wiser in the face of nature’s raw power.
Instead of writing in the past tense, I must now use the future tense. Friends, take care of Daisy and Missy and Buck and Summer and Max and… well, let’s wish the best for every one of those guys who sleeps tonight in harm’s way.