- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2006

NEW ORLEANS - His name is Vinny, named after Vincennes Place, the street he was discovered on. Hurricane Katrina ripped apart cities, houses and families, and some of the most easily overlooked victims of those fractures are the pets left behind.

Vinny has become the adopted pet of the Tebo family here in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans which was at one point under about 7 feet of floodwater.

Vinny has become friends with the Tebo’s other two cats and dog, and he is one of the lucky ones. Cecile Tebo cared for him and fed him, taking him in after she was found him yowling under her car in a downpour.

Now he has food, water and love and does what happy cats do - lounge contentedly and stretch out on the front sidewalk.

On the other side of the Crescent City, in the Lower 9th Ward, pets aren’t as lucky. Animals wander through debris and poisoned water and mud, some taking shelter in the houses once inhabited by people.

There is something heartbreaking about a ragged, undernourished dog stopping in the middle of a deserted street, looking in no direction in particular, staring off, then continuing on its journey through the rubble. The SPCA has created food depots for stray animals, and that is a valiant effort to be sure. But there doesn’t seem to be enough to go around when everyone has enough problems living their own lives.

Like the missing owners, the animals keep living, trying to survive.

If you have a family dog or cat, take a little time to remember the poor creatures wandering the ruins on the Gulf Coast as you pat him or her on the head tonight. Your faithful friend is, like Vinny, one of the lucky ones.

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