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Saving a Life After Hurricane Katrina

The story of how my two-year old Black Pit bull Terrier, Dante came to me.

It was during our time in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and I was on my way back to the rescue center in Gonzales with two other volunteer rescue workers. It was after midnight. It was 95 degrees with 90% humidity. Hot as hell. Even after midnight. We were hungry and exhausted, and still had to face a grueling night of checking our rescued animals into triage at the rescue center. I was driving our rented van and we were on an unlit, single lane highway when we spotted a big black Pit bull running down the middle of the highway at full speed. He was obviously terrified. We saw so many dogs and cats who were so afraid after what they had been through. They were starving, hurt and unsocialized. We called for him and followed him for about two miles, throwing biscuits out the window to try to lure him to our car. He ignored us and kept running until he realized we were still following him and then he cut down into a ravine along the right side of the highway. He continued running down the center of the ravine until finally I said “That dog is going to run until he falls over dead.” Just as I uttered the words, he stopped running, cut back up on the highway and crossed in front of our van, around to the driver’s door and stopped. He had bloody gashes on his face and wasn’t wearing a collar or any identification. It was pitch black outside and there was a car racing the opposite direction down the highway, about 70 mph. By the speed the car was moving, I could tell the driver couldn’t see the black dog, who’s butt-end was standing about a foot into their lane. It had all happened so fast, and I thought for sure that the dog was going to be hit. Suddenly I got a burst of adrenaline and reached through the window and scruffed the dog at the back of his neck, pulling his chest as close up to my door as possible while we waited for the car to pass. We all knew it might hit and kill the dog, taking my arm with it. The dog was up on his two back legs with his chest smashed into the door. The other two rescuers in our van were yelling at the top of their lungs…then it was over. The dog’s body swayed from the force of the car passing by that closely. My arm was still attached. We got a lead through the window, on the dog and dragged him into the van. That was my Dante. I spent the next few days visiting him in his kennel at the rescue center. We bonded, but he was so afraid of everyone we knew he had very little chance of being saved. We made the decision and brought five dogs and one kitten back with us on the plane. Dante was one of them. I fostered him and went through the painful heartworm treatments with him. We spent many evenings walking slowly through the local Petsmart store while Dante got adjusted to people and buildings and sounds. We bonded, and that was the end of that. Dante was mine.

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