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In Oil Spill's Wake, Increased Surrenders

Transport of dogs relieves pressure on two overwhelmed Louisiana shelters

When you think of those affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill, you may envision of fishermen put out of work by the disaster, or of residents watching their beautiful coastline globbed with tar balls—or perhaps even of nonhuman victims, like the pelicans and dolphins sickened by the sludge.

But, in an eerie echo of Hurricane Katrina five years ago, you can add others to the list of those deeply affected by the tragedy: pets and their people.

In the summer, as oil continued to spew from the Deepwater Horizon well, many Louisiana residents began surrendering their pets to local animal shelters. It’s difficult to determine how many of these pet owners depend on the Gulf of Mexico to earn their living—whether by fishing, working in the oil industry, or catering to tourists. But officials at animal welfare organizations in the state say they believe the oil spill played a direct role in the high numbers of animals who were given up.

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