Wednesday, July 05, 2006
The dog kingdom's Noah
Sam Bailey's life has gone to the dogs -- literally and figuratively.

We met Sam at his new home, a FEMA trailer, in Pearlington, Mississippi, a town hit by the full force of Hurricane Katrina. The home he and his wife had lived in was destroyed by the storm and wreckage is still strewn throughout the property. Their new trailer is in their old yard, a yard they share with more than 50 dogs and cats.

You see, Sam is the founder of the Pontchartrain Humane Society, an organization dedicated to taking care of stray animals until they are adopted. His humane society is different than most, because the group has no building. Some of the dogs are kept at volunteers' homes, but most stay right in Sam's yard amid all the damage from Katrina.

In the days before the hurricane, Sam was able to place many of the dogs in temporary homes to wait out the storm, but he couldn't place all of them. So as Katrina approached, Sam acted like Noah -- he ushered the dogs up to the second floor of his house, and then the attic as the water continued to rise, climbing to over 15 feet. The one dog he couldn't get in the attic was a pit bull named Sampson. That particular dog was too big and stubborn to get into the attic.

As Katrina roared through, Sam did not think he and the dogs would survive. He found other animals out in the flooded yard. He pulled them into his house too. He saw dead animals float by. Then the storm started getting less ferocious and Sam realized he and his pets would be alright.

Now, more than ten months later, he has more animals than ever because the storm left multitudes of strays, with fewer people around to adopt them.

He admits that some of his animals have "social" problems because of Katrina and are unlikely adoption candidates. Yet, he has a policy of not putting animals to sleep unless they are terminally ill. So Sam isn't quite sure what he's going to do with all the animals.

He spends hours every day with volunteers who help take care of dogs in the outdoor kennels in the hot sun. There is no shortage of mud and insects in the primitive (at least compared to other kennels) outdoor compound. But he loves his dogs, knows all their names and personalities, and hopes they will get adopted even though the calls are not exactly pouring in.

Sam and his wife say they wouldn't mind leaving Mississippi permanently because of the damage they've suffered. But because of their dogs, they have no choice but to stay.

You can visit the Pontchartrain Humane Society online at:
Posted By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent: 3:04 PM ET
Good for Sam and his wife! It is good to know that there are people in the world that care for more than just themselves. Animals have a right to a home. Where I live, much digging has been taking place; because of this, many animals have lost their homes. Most have become roadkill. It is very sad. So, Sam and wife, good wishes to you both.
Posted By Anonymous Tawny, Sacramento, California : 3:42 PM ET
Hi Gary,

Having worked in animal rescue for a number of years I know what Sam is going through. The group I worked with took in many animals that people would abandon for many reasons or just throw away. We would get in many dogs who were deemed unadoptable because they had suffered trauma either physically, emotionally or both, but we would work with them and most of the time they would be able to be placed in loving homes.

I myself have adopted two dogs and two cats from my rescue group. One dog, a dachshund named Sam was going to go to doggy death row because of his temperment that was 7 years ago and Sam turned out to be the sweetest boy ever. I also have a cat named Snickers who was kept in a basement for two years and eventhough it took me 4 years to socialize her, but she is one great kitty now.

Hopefully some kind hearted people will read Sam's story and help either to adopt these dogs or to provide other help. I know I will do my part - I am going to write Sam this afternoon.

The public must realize that although puppies ARE cute older dogs, although carrying baggage, do make better pets. Older dogs really appreciate what you do for them and they will love you unconditionally until the day they die.

Thanks for the story.
Posted By Anonymous Marcia Warren, MI : 3:58 PM ET
Hi Gary,
Thanks for putting a site on your posting as to where we can give a donation etc. Like most viewers, I watch week after week and seem to see no progress..The people of the Gulf Coast still need our help, not just our concern..Please put more sites or phone numbers where we can really put our money where our mouths are..My thoughts and Prayers go to the people of the Gulf..We are still with you..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif : 4:14 PM ET
Thank God for people like Sam and his wife that are willing to sacrifice to help the animals there. There isn't enough people like them in the world. Thanks Sam for doing what you do!! Also, if Sam is reading this - you might want to get in touch with the Best Friends Animal Society and Sanctuary - maybe they could help you out with some things -
Posted By Anonymous Bonnie, Erie, PA : 4:28 PM ET
What an awesome act of kindness and love of animals Sam and his wife have displayed. I can't imagine what a traumatic effect Katrina must have had on the pets. As a dog parent I appreciate their work and hope the dogs and cats they have taken care of all these months find homes real soon.
Posted By Anonymous Luz , Torrance, California : 4:50 PM ET
Great thanks for caring for the animals who suffered from katrina and reminding us that they are available for adoption. What darling faces! This is a wonderful kind deed that these people are doing to help find these deserving animals homes. Why would anyone purchase a pet when there are so many homeless ones that deserve loving homes?
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann Nacogdoches, Texas : 5:03 PM ET
My wife and I love animals and have two wonderful dogs and a cat. It is man that domesticated these creatures thousands of years ago. We owe it to them to give them shelter, food and love whenever possible.
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Jasper, AR : 5:15 PM ET
Dogs have an amazing ability to bounce back from dire situations when given proper discipline, excercise, and affection.

I know this because my neighbor adopted two dogs who were abandoned when the hurricane hit. These two lucky dogs are Rottweilers, a breed most people would not want (even as a puppy.) These two now have share a home with two other dogs. They are obedient, good-natured, people-loving dogs.

I hope that others would consider doing the same if they have the resources. :)
Posted By Anonymous Genevieve M, El Paso, TX : 5:26 PM ET
What a great heartwarming story. Thank you. I hadn't wanted to think about what had happened to all the pets left homeless due to Katrina since I saw the news video with the dogs floating by on cars and pieces of furniture with that frightened forlorn look on their faces. It's comforting to know that people like Sam & his wife are trying to make a difference in the lives of these the most helpless of all Katrina's victims.
Posted By Anonymous Bev. Whitby, Ontario, Canada : 5:50 PM ET
Thanks for posting stories like this. While there has been an enormous amount of human tragedy, it's good to see that CNN is not forgetting our animal friends as well. Everyone, whether they stand on legs or paws, in the Gulf Coast needs our help.
Posted By Anonymous Vikki, Green Bay, WI : 6:49 PM ET
Gary: What a great and inspirational story! You have pulled my heart string. Also, thanks for providing the link to their website. I hope that your story will encourage others to join/donate to their cause.
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 6:57 PM ET
What an amazing couple! Not only doing what they do, but that they stayed and helped keep the animals safe through the storm, and are continuing to do so. And thanks to the person who added the Best Friends link -- surely they and other shelters could help out, even as overwhelmed as they are in the busy season?
Posted By Anonymous Robin, Lynnwood, WA : 7:21 PM ET
What happened to Samson? Should I assume he didn't make it?

Also, a bit off topic, but what ever happened to "Snowball"? Did the little boy ever get him back? Was he ever found?

Keep up the great work!
Posted By Anonymous Barbara, Columbia MD : 7:31 PM ET
What an amazing man and thank you for putting the spotlight on others affected by Katrina, besides only New Orleans people.
Posted By Anonymous Katherine, Woodland Hills CA : 8:42 PM ET
Sampson was shown tonite on the show. These people have been in business here for for a long time. They care about these animals so much you can't imagine. I hope this exposure helps!!
Posted By Anonymous Karen Slidell, LA - another town severely affected yet rarely heard about : 12:16 AM ET
Glad to see you're still following up on the animal kingdom.

I believe it was in St Bernard's Parish there were many dogs shot in a school. Have the ones who pulled the trigger been caught & prosecuted yet?
Posted By Anonymous Kathy, Wichita, KS : 12:25 AM ET
Thank you so much for posting this story. I'm so glad to hear any good news coming from the Coast.
As an animal-lover with 3 dogs it would be unthinkable to me to leave my dogs behind to face such a storm. However, many people were not given that choice. Thanks goes to Mr. Bailey for giving these animals a home.
Posted By Anonymous Jessica , Hattiesburg, Mississippi : 12:45 AM ET
Dear Gary,
I just saw your report on Sam Bailey and the Pontchartrain Humane Society. It broke my heart to see those beautiful animals and Sam living under those horrible conditions. Animals are the most vulnerable in any disaster because, unlike humans, they do not have a voice to ask for help. They need people like you and Anderson to give them that voice. Have other animal organizations offered to help him? Where are the so-called animal loving celebrities? He can't go on living like this without additional assistance. My mother Rachel and I will be sending him a donation. I wish we could do more. Please let us know what happens to Sam and his dogs. Thanks again.
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio : 1:03 AM ET
Barbara, I too would like to know what happened to Sampson.

One good thing that came out of Katrina is that more people realize that pets are family to many people and evacuation plans now will allow people to take their pets along on evacuations. I think the heartbreaking "Snowball" story on CNN had a great influence on the change in rules. Sad that future plans don't help all the people who lost their pets and all the pets who lost their people. I wonder how many people died because they wouldn't leave their pets. And then, when humans had exhausted all hope of finding any more remains, dogs--the same species that were left to die in the hurricane--were brought in to find more remains. We live in an odd world.

So, what happened to Sampson?
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, a dog loving American in Mexico : 1:40 AM ET
What a heart warming and heart wrenching story. Thank you for bringing it to us. I wanted to reach through my TV screen tonight and bring those puppies right into my home. My four rescued cats voted against that.

I hope many people will donate to the Pontchartrain Humane Society and adopt some of the animals. I echo the suggestions made earlier about contacting Best Friends or other major animal rescue organizations. Sam and his wife deserve all the help they can get.

Another thread in this blog included complaints about how some victims of Katrina are allegedly abusing the system. While those stories may be true, let�s focus on the Sams of this world. We are better people because of them.
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann, Honolulu, Hawaii : 5:28 AM ET

now we have pet of the week..!!

no exactly good journalism..!!

I am so exited...!!! pet of the week..

Posted By Anonymous Peter from Parkersburg : 6:24 AM ET
Thanks for running that story. I am mailing out a dontation today. We have 3 dogs and 4 cats all rescued from death or less than desirous lives or I would be there adopting from Sam.
Posted By Anonymous Marilee Pasche Land O Lakes, FL : 7:08 AM ET
Thank you Sam Bailey and his wife, you are truly good people.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Longmont CO : 10:41 AM ET
The care and protection of animals only comes from someone with a true heart of gold. A lot of people would rather kick a stray cat or dog than rescue it from the street. We as a society need to understand better the love and connection we pet owners have with our furry friends. They also need a safe place to evacuate to during a hurricane. It's time shelters were set up for people with pets so everyone can be safe from the storm.
I keep thinking about the little boy who had his dog, Snowball ripped from his arms as he was getting on a bus in New Orleans. How cruel that act was to that little boy who was holding the only thing left in his world.
I have cats and dogs and know what it takes to care for a lot of kids, and how rewarding it is. Thank you Sam and family for your love to the pets.
Posted By Anonymous Lee Fairfield Iowa : 3:36 PM ET
Thank you so much for this story on Sam Bailey and the Pontchartrain Humane Society. Please keep your viewers updated on this story, as well as any other story related to the Katrina pets. I would like to know more about what is happening with the Pets Bill. From what I understand, it has passed the House and is in the Senate. I have already emailed my representatives and senators and think that more people would do the same if they knew about the bill.
Posted By Anonymous Valerie New, Augusta, GA : 8:17 PM ET
"Hey U Guys" My name is Sampson, I am the guy living in my parents bathroom that you saw on TV. I am fine. Because I am so old (appr 10 1/2 yrs) my parents thought it best for me to stay with them. I have become a big TV watcher, esp Anderson Cooper Show! I like the re-runs best where I can see myself! Mom & Dad are thinking about getting me my own TV.
Posted By Anonymous Sampson Bailey, Pearlington, Ms : 12:41 PM ET
I would like to explain that I am only the food bowl washer. My wife, Lyn, Chris Schade, Nancy Copes, Stephen Treese, our 2nd yr pre-vet student, Lisa Hess and others make the organization work--NOT me. THEY deserve ALL the credit.
Posted By Anonymous Sam Bailey, Pearlington, Ms : 12:45 PM ET
Thank you Sam and family for your love to the pets. The care and protection of animals only comes from someone with a true heart of like God who
created them. I will pray that God will send his working angels to you and pour out all that you will need all around. May God strengthen you as you continue to pour out of yourselve unto this precious animals. May your work be rewarded.
Posted By Anonymous Rosie, New York, NY : 6:00 PM ET
I was so good to read this update about Sam. Friends and I went down to Pearlington immediately following Katrina. We met up with Sam and worked with him for a week helping to rescue dogs, cats and even a few hogs. Sam is amazing. His dedication is unwaivering. It was a pleasure to work with him and I am so glad to hear that he is doing well.
SAM - the three dogs we brought home with us have adjusted well beyond our wildest imaginations. Thank you for all you do!!!
Posted By Anonymous Danielle Graham, Washington, DC : 10:21 AM ET
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