White Dog and I just finished watching the documentary MINE about the dogs and cats that were rescued during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. It was a tearjerker from the opening titles and White Dog came and laid on the pillow pressed against me for comfort. The Other White Dog was at the foot of the bed and it was him that made watching the movie very complicated emotionally.
Everyone agrees that the families forced to leave pets behind during the evacuation did not do so willingly; often the humans were forcibly separated from furfamily. Animals rescuers worked diligently in extreme conditions to rescue thousands of animals that would have otherwise perished. People were sent one place and pets somewhere else--to different states often. There was no efficient data base to rematch dislocated people with their pets. The people had lost everything and did not know how to even begin finding lost loves. Rescues all over the country were inundated by scared animals, many in need of medical attention.
The question was this: What happens when the humans finally regain their footing and stability, go looking for their beloved family member and discover that their precious fur one has been adopted into another family? Months and months had passed, agreed. But the original family did not choose to give up their companion and had lost everything else as well. The new adopted family had opened its heart and taken in a rescue and made it a part of their family. The law is really no help as it treats animals as property and this is clearly an issue that goes way beyond courts and lawyers. Ultimately, whose heart is broken? What about the dog or cat? I could clearly see both sides and no easy verdict.
I know if some disaster separated White Dog from me that I would hunt for the rest of my life to find her. My life would be empty. But what if I found her and she had been re-homed to another loving family? Could I leave her in her new life? Or would my heart leap for joy at being reunited?
We rescued Quinn who was on death row and have made him a part of our hearts and lives. What would we do if some stranger called on the phone and explained that he had been lost when his elderly owner had a heart attack while playing with him at the Park (hypothetically). And now was well and wanted his only companion of 10 years back? I certainly would not just let him go; he is now a part of me and I am not sure I could even consider the possibility of his living with anyone else.
The filmmaker details painful and thought provoking real life situations that arose out of Katirina to represent each point of view and I must say the debate haunts me (as do the scenes of the actual disaster). But for now I gather White Dog and The Other White Dog to me and just breathe in their closeness.