Rescuer dog will have her day

Published: March 18, 2006 | 3791st good news item since 2003

Jeff Mailes knew it was a great story: In the quagmire of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a dog plunges into neck-high water and drags a drowning man to safety.

But what Mailes never expected was that the dog would become a member of his family and that seven months later, Katrina as his kids’ named her would be a star attraction tonight at the Genesis Awards, the annual gala of the Humane Society of the United States, Hollywood, being held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. A two-hour special will air at 2 and 8 p.m. on May 6 and at noon on May 13 on the Animal Planet cable channel.

Mailes, a cameraman for a KCAL news crew covering the aftermath of the hurricane, said the crew noticed a man sitting on a porch surrounded by water not far from the French Quarter.

The man, Kevin Williams, waved the crew over and told his story how a strange dog had pulled him to safety.

“He had never seen the dog before, he didn’t own the dog before, but he couldn’t swim, he had been drowning, and the dog pulled him out of the water,” said Mailes, a La Caada Flintridge resident. “He was rather emotional about it.”

The KCAL crew aired Williams’ story, then took him to the New Orleans Convention Center so he could be transported to a hospital.

The next day, the crew returned to the same spot looking for the dog and found her sitting on the same porch where they had found Williams the day before.

After airing a story on the dog, Mailes got a telephone call.

“My wife and my daughters called me,” Mailes said. “They said, ‘Hey, what’s going to happen to the dog? We’d like to adopt her.”‘

And they did. “It’s just one of the sweetest stories,” said Gretchen Wyler, vice president of the Humane Society, Hollywood.

Katrina is still adjusting to life in Southern California and recovering from the trauma of the Gulf Coast hurricane. During the cross-country trip from New Orleans to Los Angeles, when Mailes would stop at motels for the night, Katrina would jump onto a desk or the bed instead of sleeping on the floor.

“It’s like she was trying to get away from water, scrambling to higher ground,” Mailes said.

During recent rainstorms, when the wind picked up, Katrina would hunch over and quiver.

But the Maileses are trying to provide a haven for the dog, estimated to be about 2 years old. Mailes’ two teenage daughters love to play with her, as does their golden retriever, Teddybear.

Published in Animals, Hurricane Katrina
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