Database Aids In Cat Rescue

Thanks to the rescue efforts of Shawn Alladio, owner of K38 Rescue, and the list of animals stranded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina featured on (, two cats were saved last Tuesday (Sept. 13) and reunited with their owner.

Cherie Holton was forced to evacuate her home in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. She boarded up her house thinking she would return shortly, leaving behind Phanny, a blind shorthaired calico, and Bob, a 19-year-old black and white cat. Holton found housing an hour away in Bourg, La. As soon as she realized she would be gone for more than a few days, she began contacting rescue operations about her two stranded cats.

On Thursday (Sept. 8), Holton's friend Margie Brinkman posted a message to the Yahoo newsgroup Six_States_Rescue about the two missing cats. This message was found by staff from The Horse, Brinkman was contacted to verify and expand the information, and the listing was posted to A volunteer on Alladio's team found stranded animal database and distributed the information to the K38 team and other rescue groups.

K38 Rescue, based in California, is described on their web site ( as "an established and growing family of water rescue and safety specialists committed to enhancing the occupational and recreational use of the PWC (personal watercraft). Homeland Security has become a major defining training force utilizing Personal Watercraft. K38 provides PWC rescue boat courses for law enforcement, military, lifeguard, and fire department."

The Rescue

By the time the K38 Rescue team was alerted of Holton's plight, Phanny and Bob had been stranded in Holton's house for 16 days, and it was unknown whether they had food or water left. Luckily, one of Holton's neighbors in the same building had put out buckets of water and all of the cat food that she owned before she evacuated. On Tuesday (Sept. 13), Alladio's team was finally available to go in and attempt a rescue of Bob and Phanny.

Upon arriving at Holton's residence, Alladio contacted Holton on a cell phone to determine how to get into the house. Once inside, Alladio said the first words out of her mouth were: "Ooh, fresh cat poop!"

The buckets of water had turned green with mold, so they were immediately dumped out. For a while, no cats could be found. Alladio put Holton on speaker phone and told her to begin calling her cats. According to Alladio, "All of a sudden this extremely emaciated black cat with a cute white face comes out cautiously, pitifully meowing! Then right behind it Cheri's second cat Phanny slowly followed Bob's sounds. Phanny was sticking close to Bob."

Bob immediately began purring and rubbing against the phone. The cats, although thin, were in good condition and were taken to the local humane society to be checked out.

That evening, Holton and Alladio met at a local Yamaha dealership that K38 was using as a base camp. Alladio said, "It was so uplifting to actually meet the pets and owners and to place them back together. It felt like a family reunion!"

Holton, overjoyed to be reunited with her cats, plans to foster other cats that were left behind because of Katrina. Holton's residence, a 150-year-old house where Civil War General P.G.T. Beauregard died, sustained little flooding.

Alladio said her team had helped more than 60 animals during Hurricane Katrina.

Alladio offered the following advice for pet owners in an emergency: Make sure food is accessible--dry food is preferable--and set out at least a 10-day supply. She reminded that water can evaporate in high temperatures, so make sure to leave plenty. Place a notice on your front door stating how many pets are in your home with a contact number to a person who can be reached during a disaster. Take digital photos of your animals in case you need to conduct a search or prove ownership. Make sure you have records of your animals' vaccinations. Keep the following available (if needed): Muzzle, leash, collar, additional food/water for travel, pet carrying cages, and medications.

Holton expressed her appreciation to The Horse staff and K38 Rescue for saving her animals. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!," she stated via a phone interview. "I love them so much, and I'm just so fortunate to have found them!"

About the Author

Liz Stitt, Editorial Intern

Liz Stitt was The Horse's editorial intern in 2005 and a student majoring in equine science and English at the University of Kentucky.

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