Editor’s note: Some images in this post may be disturbing because of their graphic nature.


Many dogs waited loyally for family that did not come home. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

Members of the National Guard team with rescue volunteers to locate trapped animals. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

In 2005, when many people were faced with the impossible decision of whether to be rescued from the impending churn of Hurricane Katrina but abandon their pets, or be left behind, many chose the former. Some people thought they would only be away for a few days. And shelters, including those of the American Red Cross, were refusing to take animals.

About 250,000 animals of all kinds were left with little means of survival. The lucky ones had some food and water; some were trapped inside and others were stranded on rooftops. During Katrina, former Washington Post photographer Carol Guzy captured a heartbreaking record of the abandoned animals, including dogs, cats, horses and even a pig.

Then there was the other side of the spectrum. Faced with rising waters, some people refused to leave with rescuers, and died as a result. The uproar caused by the separation of people from their pets spurred the passing of the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006. It requires state and local officials to make evacuation plans and provide shelter for animal companions.

In anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew on U.S. shores, animal welfare organizations are urging people to make sure that their animals have identification tags and to evacuate early.


Cheri Templeman from Minnesota volunteers with the Humane Society of the United States. Rescuers climbed through the rubble of shattered homes in New Orleans’s lower 9th Ward to save stranded animals. Many were left behind when the official policy forbade families from evacuating with their beloved pets. This dog was eventually reunited with a grateful owner who had lost everything. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

Rescuer Don Arnold pursues a frightened dog. He was able to rescue the dog after returning to the neighborhood several times. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

Bobby Fumarelli, a firefighter from New York, volunteers with an animal rescue in St. Bernard Parish. He was honored by the ASPCA at its Humane Awards ceremony in New York as Firefighter of the Year. He is a former U.S. Marine who “puts his heart and soul into everything he does,” according to his family. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

A.J. Meadows, an emergency medical technician with the Arizona Humane Society, rescues a cat from the attic of a home. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

Volunteers witnessed surreal scenes. Drew Moore, working with the HSUS animal rescue effort, searched homes for trapped animals. In one residence, he found a frightened dog next to his dead companion. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

A volunteer searched a home in response to a guardian’s request and found a frightened dog named Chloe hiding in the attic of a home in St. Bernard parish. Chloe was rescued more than six weeks after the hurricane devastated the region. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

Scotlund Haisley, executive director of the Washington Animal Rescue League, finds a lonely dog cowering in the debris of a home. His team of volunteers from the D.C.-based shelter traveled to New Orleans frequently to assist with the rescue effort. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

A deceased dog lies next to a home. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

A resident returned to her devastated neighborhood to feed the cats she left behind. The sounds of their quiet meows trapped inside her home made her break down in tears. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

An emaciated puppy is given medical care at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, which served as a temporary shelter for thousands of lost and injured pets. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

Rescuers set up a temporary shelter on the site of a damaged Winn-Dixie store. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

Sarah Rose, a volunteer with Animal Rescue New Orleans, sleeps with a rescued pit bull puppy in a house that was donated to the group searching for abandoned pets. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

A horse and a dog were rescued in St. Bernard parish and were eventually reunited with their owners. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

Emotional reunions took place when families located their lost pets at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, which served as a temporary shelter set up by the Humane Society of the United States. Jessica Delaney, 13, and Edna Helmstetter exclaim when Hazel Ford, 71, found her beloved companion Mr. Snoogles. She was so worried about him she couldn’t eat or sleep and went to four locations before finding him here. Seeing him brought her family members and shelter workers to tears. They considered him part of the family. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

Aaron Minjares, a volunteer with Disaster Response Animal Rescue at a Winn- Dixie, gets a wet kiss from a pit bull rescued from a flooded apartment building in the lower 9th Ward, where the dog had been trapped in a closet for weeks. The dog was snarling and appeared aggressive at first but soon realized he was safe. (Carol Guzy/The Washington Post)

See more of photos of abandoned pets by Carol Guzy

Heartbreaking photos show Venezuela’s abandoned dogs