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Slidell Louisiana in late August 2005 was gone. The city wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, the cities people and its animals are homeless. All that is left is ruin. Trees line the streets, debris, and toxin float in the water. Homes are destroyed along with any hopes and dreams.
Romeo, a kind hearted three year old Pit mix finds himself alone. Scared and frightened the poor soul roams the streets. What was left of his house is under water. Survival skills click in, and the poor harmless dog must find some way to survive. For hours, and probably even days the dog looks for food and shelter. Not only does Romeo stomach growls for food, but his heart longs for human kindness. In a world turned upside down, all Romeo really wants is his belly scratched, and a nice warm hug. Gone are his people, they may have died, we will never know.
Noah’s Wish was called to help in the days after the hurricane. They set up a make shift shelter. In the end they helped 1900 animals find their homes, or foster homes. Romeo was one of those that ended up in their care. Noah’s Wish was searching and researching major options for Pit Bulls left in their care. This breed is hard to place, most shelters won’t take them, and so in the end when an Oregon rescue opened up their doors, it was a welcome relief. Noah’s Wish got references, and they proceeded with their plan to fly 12 Katrina dogs to this rescue. In the end hind sight is 20/20; Romeo probably would have fended better left in the city that found him.
December 9th and 10th 2005 was like most cold winter days in Oregon. But, for Romeo it was supposed to be a new beginning. It was his ticket out of a wasted city. It was his ticket to a better future. Romeo and 11 other Pit mixes arrived in Portland Oregon late at night and all alone. The rescue*(ill fated and not in existence anymore*) arrived to pick up the dogs.
What transpired in the next two months was short of abuse. Not quite abuse, but definitely neglect. Romeo and the others endured extended crating, no heart worm treatments, and prolonged time in the cold. Romeo never saw a veterinarian in the two months he was in their care. He was thin and suffering from heart worms when we picked him up.
When Noah’s Wish found out about the lack of care, and the horrible conditions surrounding this rescue, they came to Oregon to retrieve their dogs. What transpired was almost criminal. The rescue* ran in the middle of the night with all the dogs in crates in the back of a uhaul. The dogs lived in crates in their own mess, they went hungry, and they suffered dehydration. In the end a friend to this ill fated rescue convinced the rescue* to allow her to take care of the remaining five Katrina dogs. Two of the dogs were admitted to a veterinary hospital under critical care. Three of the dogs while thin, but not yet starved, were taken to a boarding facility in Washington. When all the dogs were finally safe, Noah’s Wish was alerted, and they flew out to take custody back of their dogs.
That is when we were called. Two months after the dogs arrived in Oregon, they were being driven back to California. Mina Johnson with Noah’s Wish called and asked us if we had any room. We agreed to take the most affable Pit Bull that they had. With their financial support, we agreed to take Romeo.
Romeo is our hero for many reasons. He survived a horrible natural disaster, lost his home and his loved ones. He was promised a better life in Oregon, and he was let down horribly. He was crated on numerous times for over 24 hours, he lived in his own waste, and he was deprived of water and food. He has lived with heart worm, a treatable and certainly preventable disease. He has had people let him down time and again, and instead of turning, instead of hate and distrust, the tan Pit mix still loves. The boy melts in your arms; in Romeo’s eyes there is no better place to be than in the arms of a human. Romeo, you see, understands that not all people are the same. He understands that profiling is wrong; in Romeo’s eyes not all humans are bad, but good. And so, it is through Romeo’s eyes that I would challenge anyone to look. If all people could look at a Pit Bull not by breed and stature, their big Pit Bull head, but through their heart, their eyes, and their soul. It takes more than looking and seeing to understand. Not all Pit Bulls are bad, some, like Romeo, have endured so much, yet in the end they forgive. Remember that next time you look at a Pit Bull; judge not the size, the breed, but its huge heart!