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Hurricane Katrina Q & A


We asked several different people who had drastically different experiences during Hurricane Katrina to answer some questions about the storm and the Louisiana SPCA. 


What do you think the silver lining of Hurricane Katrina was?

  • “The storm raised the profile of companion animal disaster response locally, nationally and internationally. Evacuation options now include companion animals!” – Helen Hester, volunteer since 2005

  • “Katrina really showed Americans that these things can happen in the U.S. and we need to be prepared. Laura Maloney and the Louisiana SPCA led the way for country-wide legislation and policy changes that will save the lives of many animals – humans included.” – Dr. Emily Roberson, volunteer since 2001

  • “The way that experiences learned through Katrina altered the entire country's perception and importance of evacuation planning which would take into account the importance of the human animal bond, as well as the role of animals within a community. Until Katrina happened, animals were relegated to an afterthought as though a luxury item or non-essential. It was the lessons of Katrina that radically altered the way agencies and departments preemptively engage and plan with the aspect of the human animal bond in mind.” - Officer Eric Durcinka, Hurricane Katrina first responder


What do you wish people knew about the Louisiana SPCA’s rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina?

  • “How selfless the staff and volunteers were after Katrina. They went door-to-door to rescue pets that were left behind. Even if they just left food, they returned day after day until the owners came home.” – Debbie Frederickson, volunteer since 2005

  • “The Louisiana SPCA was a true model for how to continue operations before, during and after a large-scale disaster. I work in public health and the Louisiana SPCA’s example is used to train people in emergency preparedness all over the country.” - Dr. Emily Roberson, volunteer since 2001

  • “If the Louisiana SPCA had been organizing the evacuation of the City, it would have worked!” – David Webster, volunteer since 2001

  • “One of the most impacting things with respect to my experience was the unbelievable commitment of the employees who worked for the Louisiana SPCA. Each day I would see all of the employees whose houses had just been destroyed, whose families were now scattered, come together and work in various capacities of the animal rescue effort.” – Officer Eric Durcinka, Hurricane Katrina first responder 

  • “Simple tasks proved to be challenging given the extreme conditions. Cleaning, feeding, watering and walking more than 2,000 dogs started at 7 a.m. and took dozens of volunteer teams the entire day; often lasting until midnight.” – Marta Diffen, Michigan Humane Society first responder 


How would you describe the Louisiana SPCA’s growth since Hurricane Katrina?

  • “I’m so proud of how the Louisiana SPCA has grown, not just since Katrina, but since before Katrina as well. It’s easy to get bogged down in day-to-day details of how things could be better, but if you remember where the shelter started … it’s truly amazing!” - Dr. Emily Roberson, volunteer since 2001


How has animal welfare improved since Hurricane Katrina?

  • “Now there is a strategic plan to keep pets and their owners together when evacuating. Also, people now realize that their pet should be taken with them, you never know if and when you’ll be able to return.” – Debbie Frederickson, volunteer since 2005

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