It has been almost three years since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, LA and wreaked havoc all along the gulf coast and in several states. Among the damage and loss thousands of pets were left behind. Many families were evacuated from the area and unable to take their pets with them. In St. Bernard Parish, families that had gathered at local schools with their families, neighbors and pets were required to leave them behind when the evacuation became full force. They were assured that their pets would be safe and taken care of. Families were told that the animals would be sheltered and every effort made to bring pets and families together or find new homes for these affectionate and furry family members.
However, these families did not return to find their animals protected, loved or even sheltered. Thousands of dogs were inhumanely shot and killed while tied up and “residing” in the shelter of several St. Bernard Parish schools, including St. Bernard Parish High School and PGT Beauregard Middle School or as they roamed the neighborhoods of their homes searching for rescue and care.
Dogs Shot by Sgt. Minton of St. Bernard Parish
David Lessen, a Pulitzer Prize Winning photographer from the Dallas Morning News spoke with and filmed Sgt Michael Minton of the St. Bernard Parish Police Force as well as Sgt. Robert Moore of the Louisiana State Police. The video of this interview is available on YouTube. In it Sgt. Minton admits to and is photographed shooting dogs and leaving them dead and injured on the side of the road. Lessen in his video asked Sgt. Minton how many dogs had he shot and he responded, “Enough, it’s better for them really more humane because there is no one here to take care of them.”
Justice for the Pets Murdered in St. Bernard Parish
In November 2006 former District Attorney Charles Foti obtained indictment against both men on charges of Aggravated Animal Cruelty. The charges have recently been dropped with claims by the new Attorney General that there is insufficient evidence to support a conviction. Not only are the families, children and owners of the pets as well as the pets themselves victims of this cruelty but their suffering goes unpunished as a result of what is perceived to be an “un-winnable” case. How can that be, when video footage shows the officers in question, the sound of a shot, the dog going down and then they drive off. Apparently the footage moved from one to the other and the state claims that that prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer’s indicted acted in such a way.
Who are the victims of this atrocity? The families, the children and the owners of these loved and cherished pets as well as the pets themselves. Investigations found hundreds of dead dogs scattered along the streets, tied to doors in the schools and left to decompose in our children’s classrooms. Blood spattered walls, dead bodies of pets and empty water dishes as well as pet toys littered these rooms meant to shelter the animals, families and in the future education the children of New Orleans. Many families left names, telephone numbers, pet’s names and pled for assistance for their beloved pets to return to New Orleans to find them butchered or permanently damaged.
What can be done? Federal charges can be filed. The Pasado’s Safe Haven, a group dedicated to saving animals and fighting animal cruelty, are offering a $25,000.00 reward for witnesses to the events within the schools. They have hired private investigators and accumulated data regarding the events including interviews with other witnesses, photographs of the animals and bullets left at the scene as well as autopsy reports. For more information about this organization and its efforts please visit it online.
The devastation and destruction that occurred in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina is heart wrenching, and so many people are making great strides every day to create a better place to live there after the events almost three years ago. However, until all parties that actively participate and assist in that devastation are charged and convicted the rebuilding and restoration of the area will never be complete. Damages aren’t limited to buildings and businesses but to people’s hearts and souls and only by repairing the damage caused there by destruction and cruelty can restoration truly take place.