The U.S. Humane Society estimates that 69 percent of households in the New Orleans area had pets, and that more than 600,000 were left on their own in Hurricane Katrina's wake. Five thousand have been rescued, Joel Goldman, a veterinarian in charge of the rescue effort, said Friday.

Animal welfare groups say they are fighting time and red tape to save as many of the rest as possible.

State officials Friday waived a rule mandating a 30-day local holding period for animals with tags, according to the Humane Society. That clears the way for hundreds of animals to be transported out of Louisiana to shelters in other states.

Bodies of dogs and cats litter the streets of the New Orleans area. Surviving animals are dehydrated, starving and beset by disease. About 600 of the 5,000 rescued pets have been reunited with their owners, he said.

People who have lost pets can search photos and descriptions on the Web at to try to find them. Owners have until Oct. 15 to reclaim their pets.

-- Bloomberg News

Amber Kurtz, with an Oklahoma animal hospital, carries a puppy who swam toward rescuers.A Texas National Guardsman gives water and food to abandoned dogs in New Orleans. The Humane Society estimates that more than 600,000 animals were left on their own in the city after Katrina hit. Kim Mathews holds a swan as other volunteers try to trap more. The ill birds were taken from New Orleans's City Park to Audubon Zoo.

Sgt. Jesse Jordan holds a horse rescued by the Humane Society of Tulsa. Many of the animals are dehydrated, starving and sick. A dog looks out a window at the water. About 600 pets have been reunited with owners.

Volunteers rescued about 60 cats from a home submerged in water but had trouble finding a place for them, as many shelters are full.