There’s this gut-wrenching, heart-rending story from some Katrina survivors on CNN.com, (link) in which we’re told the tale of a family trapped in their attick for three days. During that time the grandmother died, the mother considered suicide (inviting the daughters to participate), and one of the girls managed to talk Mom out of it.
Two things stand out.
1) The suicide method would have been “Death by Lortab.” I’ve had Lortab. I know, that’s not really a personal connection with these people, but it’s a start.
2) They decided not to evacuate initially because of their pets (three dogs, a cat, a guinea pig, a gerbil, six hamsters and a parakeet.). Then, when the levees broke and the water began rising, they lost some precious time trying to save the pets, and ended up saving two of the dogs. Both dogs have now been abandoned.
Their ordeal really is harrowing to read. And, in the spirit of “let’s all try to learn something useful here,” It also serves as a cautionary tale. The moral of the story? Prioritize the human lives in your house far enough above the animal lives that when push comes to shove, you don’t have to think twice before letting your pets die — even if the coming calamity is only a possibility.
I’ve cried when my pets died. I’ve felt a deep connection to the animals my family lived with. But I’d MUCH rather console my children over the abandonment of our animals than over the fact that they had to watch and listen as their grandmother died of congestive heart failure while lying in filthy water in a 110-degree attic. No, I don’t believe this family knew at the time that they were making that choice, and HAD they known, I’m sure they would have chosen differently.
If my home ever catches fire, the only thought I’ll waste on our cute, little teddy-bear hamster named Hazel is that NOBODY pauses to pull her out of the house until the fire is OUT. And nobody goes back in to fight the fire except firemen.
If we ever have to evacuate the city I’m in, whether or not there’s a certainty of calamity, we’ll pile in and leave. I’ll throw a couple of extra food pellets in the little furball’s cage, set it out on the counter where looters and do-gooders can find it, and be done with it.
Prioritizing in this way is something you have to do in advance.