|© Amy Sancetta|
Daisy at Rescue Village
Betty Gadel was a lifelong cat lover, but one day she surprised her husband Joe and her family with an adopted dog—a boxer mix named Daisy. Gadel wanted to give her family a companion who would be around after she and her husband were gone. Daisy had been abused in a prior home—she bore a scar around her neck from a collar that had become embedded there—but she was showered with love in the Gadel household, even enjoying a special snack of graham crackers and milk before bed.
Not long after the adoption, Betty Gadel died at home, with Daisy at her side. “From that point on, Daisy and Joe were inseparable,” says Sharon Harvey, executive director of Geauga Humane Society’s Rescue Village in Ohio.
As Hurricane Katrina approached Louisiana last summer, the family planned to stay put. “[Gadel] had never had to leave the house before. He … had weathered every storm that had come through and was refusing to leave,” says Harvey. “When the mandatory evacuation happened, they only had enough room for the five adults that were in the home in the car, and had to go without Daisy and without his wife’s ashes.”
|Daisy and Joe|
When the family returned after the storm, they couldn’t get into their flooded home and feared the worst: that Daisy had not survived. But Daisy was in the midst of her own journey—she had been rescued and given the new name of “Bubba.” Of the four dogs transported to Rescue Village for fostering in October, Daisy was “one of the two most traumatized,” says Harvey. “She was just so quiet and so down.”
While searching for Daisy online, her family discovered her record on Petfinder.com. They e-mailed Geauga shelter manager Cynthia Fant and began comparing notes. “They sent a variety of pictures and started comparing lumps and bumps and scars,” says Harvey. Eventually, the shelter and the family determined that they had a match.
Like many Katrina evacuees, Joe Gadel now lives in Florida (and has since also recovered his wife’s ashes). “He was living in a house where the landlord wasn’t going to let him have a dog,” says Harvey. “And the family really petitioned hard and pled their case, and happily, he decided to make an exception [because] Daisy was a Katrina survivor.”
When Daisy arrived in Orlando the week before Thanksgiving, a local affiliate of an Ohio television station was poised to film the reunion. And what they witnessed was truly a TV-worthy moment. “They said that the instant they offloaded her crate, she started going crazy as soon as she saw him,” says Harvey. “That dog that came out of that crate at the airport when we watched it on TV was a completely different animal than we had seen at our shelter. She was just beside herself to be back with her dad.”
For Harvey and her colleagues at Rescue Village, the reunion confirmed that their involvement in Katrina was worth it. “Whenever I wonder if I made the right decision to further tax our already dreadfully stretched resources by bringing in animals from another part of the country,” she says, “all I have to do is look at these photos and I have my answer.”