In the decade since Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the Gulf Coast, thousands of people have told their stories of survival. Now it’s the pets turn to talk about how they made it through the flood and weeks of waiting to be reunited with their owners.
In a new book debuting this month, pet whisperer and disaster responder Terri Steuben describes what the dogs, cats, horses and other animals told her as she and her team rescued them from the muddy streets and destroyed homes of New Orleans. Tails of Triumph: Animals Tell Their Katrina Stories offers a fresh and unique perspective on the historic event with tales that are compelling, inspiring and timeless.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sent Steuben to Louisiana to help with its massive lifesaving effort, the largest animal rescue operation in U.S. history. She worked with military and fire personnel to get pets to safety. Her disaster response training and ability to telepathically communicate with the animals made her a valuable member of the rescue team.
Steuben’s book is based on the journal she kept for the two weeks she freed trapped pets, found hidden cats and calmed aggressive dogs. She shares what the pets said about swimming in the flood water, rationing food and comforting each other as well as their relief and happiness when they were saved. In addition to the animals’ stories, Tails of Triumph gives readers a glimpse of what life was like in the disaster zone for the professional and volunteer responders who came from all parts of the U.S. and Canada to help.
Eric Sakach, HSUS incident commander and senior law enforcement specialist, writes in the book’s foreword, “While all of our team members exhibit a variety of talents, Terri Steuben possesses something more—the ability to communicate with animals. She has a way of communicating that seemed to put them at ease, making capture and subsequent handling go even more smoothly.”
Steuben is an animal communicator who has counseled pet owners around the world for more than two decades. Using her psychic abilities and practical experience, she helps people better understand their animals and solve behavior and health problems. She is also the author of Secrets of a Pet Whisperer: Stop Telling Your Animals to Misbehave, a how-to book on communication that includes specific instructions on preparing for emergencies and helping your pets survive a disaster.
Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Steuben has worked as an animal rights advocate and helped draft animal response and evacuation plans in her home state of California. “Hurricane Katrina proved to be a turning point for the animals,” she says. “It led to the federal Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2006 that requires attention to the animals in disaster response. Thankfully, we are becoming more prepared to keep our pets safe from harm.”
It took years for Steuben to get to the point where she could write about the animals, but with the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaching on August 29, she felt she had to let them to speak for themselves. “I witnessed a lot of heartbreak and destruction in New Orleans. But my heart sang as we found the pets, because I was able to hear their joy and what they said about being rescued, getting to freedom and reuniting with their owners,” she said.
Tails of Triumph: Animals Tell Their Katrina Stories is available from http://www.TerriSteuben.com, Amazon, Kobo, pet boutiques and independent bookstores; published by McCoury Publishing with 330 pages, 32 photos. Suggested retail price is $27.99 (print); $13.99 (ebook).