The reports on Hurricane Earl have had me thinking about an odd thing that happened in the aftermath of Katrina. Then this morning I read a review of the new book about animal ethics, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat. The two seem connected. Here's what I've been thinking about:
I was working with an animal rescue organization in New Orleans. It was almost Halloween. There weren't very many animals left to be saved by then. There was a lot of spraypainted graffiti on the fronts of houses, documenting deaths, human and otherwise. We were working from a list of animals who had been reported, through a website, to have been left behind. By this time, though, they would have been rescued if not for an address problem. It was a list filled with typos. We drove aimlessly through what looked like a war zone. It was eerie. Packs of now-wild dogs roamed the streets. Cars were upended. There was wreckage as far as the eye could see.
We finally found a house on our list. There wasn't any problem letting ourselves in. All of the doors hung open. Inside, furniture was piled willy-nilly. The floor, the walls were coated with slime. We were wearing masks, but the chemical smell was still dizzying. And there, on the second floor, we found two goldfish! They were alive! How did they live for so long without food, we wondered?
I was the one who cradled them on my lap in the backseat of the van all the way to site where the rescued animals were being cared for. I did that, but I wouldn't have rescued them in the first place. I was there for the cats and the dogs. But I couldn't argue with the others' logic. Who was I to choose between species?
That's the image in my head: carrying that goldfish bowl through the rubble.
As it turns out, the reason the fish had lived was because their owners had been checking on them periodically. They had to drive 50 miles to pick them up and bring them home again.