St. Charles Parish remembering Katrina

Angie Robert, St. Rose: Orli the dog rescued, returned, becomes ‘Angel’

I got a phone call from a friend who worked at a contractor that was doing clean up at the Murphy oil spill in St. Bernard Parish after Katrina.

She told me the workers found a little dog covered in oil and knew she had a friend in the rescue business that would take it. I said yes, of course, without hesitation.

I was an Animal Control Officer at the time but did – and still do – a lot of fostering. I got the little dog and it turned out to be a Shih Tzu. I didn’t figure that out until I had given her several baths in Dawn dish detergent. Luckily, I had some on hand since all stores had been closed.

I fostered her for about two years. I didn’t want to adopt her out as I knew she had belonged to someone, even though I wasn’t sure of who, what, where or how.

One day I got a phone call from my friend at the contractor’s office in St. Bernard that the oil-covered dog was seen on a lost flier with an online rescue site as the contact. It took me several weeks to reach out to this person because the flier was coming from Fort Worth, Texas. I was very leery about it, to say the least. I just didn’t want to give the dog to the wrong person.

I decided to make the call and see what the request was all about. The person was offering a $2,000 reward, so he must have been serious.

Come to find out, it was not his dog. He had seen the dog’s picture in a Fort Worth paper and couldn’t understand why the post-storm photographer left the poor dog behind. He made it a personal crusade to find the little dog.

I didn’t tell him right way that I had the dog. By this time she was in my heart, and I wasn’t going to give her to just anyone. I didn’t care about the money – that’s not why I rescue. I talked to the man, Don, over the span of a month and got to know him. It didn’t take long to realize what a heart of gold he had. He had pure intentions.

I decided he and the little lost dog were meant to be family. He was so happy when I told him he was the one who would be blessed to love her for the rest of her life – her forever home.

He drove straight from Texas the next day. The minute she met Don, she jumped in his lap like she was supposed to be there. (Don rides a wheelchair, a fact I didn’t know and didn’t care about.) It was amazing. Don insisted I take the reward money. I turned him down and explained that that’s not why I rescue; it’s a heart and soul thing for me.

A few weeks went by and I got a $2,000 check in the mail. I called Don to thank him and explained that I would be signing the check over to the St. Charles Humane Society, which I did the very next day.

Don and Orli are now superstars in a Shih Tzu rescue he started in her honor. She is also the “unofficial mascot” of the Alley Cat Angels of Texas because of her affinity for kitties. Don reports that Orli is the perfect doggy ambassador who loves kids and strangers. Don and I are great friends to this day and chat on a regular basis.

Don had this to say about Orli: “As strange as it may seem, Orli has made a huge change in my life. It’s hard to believe a little dog could have such an effect on a person, but she is truly a special dog.

It is almost as if someone had planned this all along for me. The many obstacles that were placed in front of me before I was finally allowed to hold Orli in my arms were tests to determine if I might be worthy of taking care of such a wonderful little dog.

Of course, you were the major player in this story. Had you not been well-known in the New Orleans area as a person who loved and cared for animals and had not welcomed “Slick” into your home, there is no way I would ever have known this special dog. It is almost as if an intricate “play” had been developed and each step along the path had to be followed exactly for the final result.

On a larger scope, St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter was one of the only southern shelters that didn’t get much damage, but we did have our fair share. We worked for two months without a day off, becoming rescue hub for so many animals found in other parishes.

The St. Charles Humane Society did low cost vet care, and the animals were sent to other states for adoption. This happened for the next year.

This is a trend that is still happening today with pets being transported form southern states and sent all over the United States for adoption. The St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter participates in these transports often.


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