OCTOBER 4, 2005

We were disheartened, and yes, broken-hearted, when Dr. Stewart working to save Lou-Sippi reported to us that our rescued virtual Poster Dog, Lou-Sippi was, in addition to suffering from the expected and devastating Hurricane-related injuries, and the predictable acute consequences of post-disaster hunger, dehydration, and isolation, also showed signs of previous, old, and habitual neglect and abuse. The sweet, valiant mixed-breed was chock full of old buck-shot, and was afflicted with a raging, chronic and life-threatening heart-worm infection — an unmistakable sign of long-term indifference to his welfare and care. (How tragically emblematic that it would be heartworm: That this wonderful dog’s loving heart was, literally, ravaged because at least some of his prior “people” seem to have been, well, heartless.)

But we were equally heartened by the response to Lou-Sippi’s plight. From OUR incredibly brave, selfless and savvy action-hero search and rescue volunteers Chris Sisto and Don Kjos who went into Katrina Hell to save him and other animals that were left homeless; and to our nurturing, kind, and skilled Dr. Stewart and his staff at Academy Animal Hospital who labored so tirelessly and worked so hard to try to save Lou-Sippi, or at least to make him feel comfortable, safe, and loved. To the tireless work from Pets & Animals in Distress volunteers who have contributed to tell and get Lou-Sippi’s story out to all of you—and to the animal lovers who care; and to the legions of tender-hearted and generous among you who, once armed with the information, reached out with concern, good wishes, prayers, and contributions of time and financial support to try to save his life, and to save the lives of the countless other animals like him–or, even better, to support the effort of PAW and groups like it to educate, organize, legislate, and put systems in place to prevent such tragedies in the future. There’s a lot of heart out there, and we’ve been moved and touched by it.

Our beautiful intrepid boy Lou-Sippi didn’t make it. He was just too neglected, too abused, and too demolished by the disaster, not to mention by the human guardians who let him down. And all the incredible efforts his rescuers, caregivers, supporters, who didn’t stint by a dollar or an hour or an ounce of love–even though we did everything we could, even everything was too little, too late. But he tried his best, which was pretty darn great, and so did we all, all of us who were lucky enough to get to know and privileged to try to save, and serve, this amazing, souful little guy named Lou-Sippi.

So, this particular heart-warming story doesn’t have an old-fashioned happy ending. That doesn’t mean it’s all in vain, though. Far from it. Lou-Sippi was lifted by loving hands out of a long, torturous bad dream followed by a terrifying nightmare –and we’re sure he knew it. That he was, at last, loved.

He was spared a lonely and painful death. And he found out that there are good people who help, not just mean ones who hurt you or just don’t care. He got to know, maybe for the first time, people who cherished him, who were devoted to caring for, and enjoying him–and to whom he returned the lovingkindness of every changed dressing, soft word, appreciative pat on the head tenfold with the gratitude, depth, and tenderness we saw shining from his eyes, and in the licks, tail-wags, and happy barks that, weakened as he was, he bestowed on all.

Lou-Sippi spent his last days surrounded by, and surrounding others with, pure love. The heartworm may have, in the end, conquered his body, but never his spirit. He knew, and gave, joy, affection, and security. And, most of all, hope.

I had this column all planned about Lou-Sippi wonderful life he would have after recovering, but the news about Lou-Sippi death has kind of de-railed that–or maybe, put it back on track. Because not only did Lou-Sippi’s short, beautiful, bittersweet life, and the ultimately failed (but not futile) battle to save it, touch us all, but seeing his struggle, and telling and sharing his story–and the unseen, untold stories of thousands like him–is what will make a difference in the end. His story changed us, and stories like his can change the world.

See, you wouldn’t believe the outpouring of care, support, and concern we’ve gotten in response to Lou-Sippi’s saga. It is our hope that this will spill over into the whole effort to save the animals–not just in natural disasters and other emergencies, but from human ignorance, from cruelty, from lack of resources, and maybe most dangerous, from ignorance. Not just in sweeping national dramas, but from the every-day deprivations and perils our animals too often face.

One thing that has come out of the annihilating floods of Katrina and Rita is a tidal wave of love, especially for the animals. Once people became alerted to the situation of lost, abandoned, and stranded pets, there seemed to be a mass “epiphany” of raised awareness. Hopefully, the public–and not just us hard-core animal fanatics–is now alerted to the whole issue of animal welfare. And if groups like Pets & animals in Distress are able to persevere in our efforts, this awareness will not fade with the headlines, but will grow as people are educated, organized, and moved.

The most unlikely and traditionally contentious groups, in normal times at each other’s throats, have emerged, individually and collaboratively, out of the chaos of Katrina, to help the animals. Whatever the disaster-related political controversy than can, and has, arisen about warring population groups, government competence or lack of, triage, preparedness, rival rescue agencies, misappropriated funds–the animals, and their advocates, seem to rise above it, and reach out to the pets, and to the public, and to each other.

Lou-Sippi was loved by many of us that touched our hearts for his battle and will to survive. He will be deeply missed by all of us, but his story and legacy will live on. He at least had the chance to experience the beautiful memories of what it felt like to have a loving family life to be loved, cared for and wanted. We know this and he knows this.

Pets & Animals in Distress would like to thank everyone for your love, support and prayers you have given Lou-Sippi in his critical time of need. We Love You & We will all will miss him terribly that this little black dog with no name that was rescued in Pearlington, Mississippi and brought to Mandeville, Louisiana and now has found his final resting place in Florida, surrounded by the ones who loved and cared for him. God Bless you Lou-Sippi and may the Animal Angels above surround and protect you forever in the Rainbow Bridge. God Bless!


Pets & Animals in Distress
“Your Best Friends Helping Our Best Friends”



Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone who was very special to them… someone who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life, but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….