Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ali MacGraw helps launch 'Pawprints of Katrina'

By Sandy Miller Courtesy At Best Friends Animal Sanctuary last Saturday, July 26, a full day of activities celebrated the release of Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned, Cathy Scott’s moving book about the animals rescued in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina three years ago. Cathy, a veteran journalist who covered the rescue for Best Friends’ magazine and Web site, was much more than just a casual observer with a notepad. She worked right alongside other Best Friends staffers and volunteers rescuing the pets left behind by Hurricane Katrina. It became the largest animal rescue effort in U.S. history, with approximately 15,000 animals saved. Best Friends played a major role in that effort, rescuing and helping to place roughly 7,000 animals, Cathy says. For the book, Cathy did hundreds of interviews to capture the animals’ journeys from the time they were rescued to their care by volunteers to their reunions with their people or placement in new forever homes. She also pays tribute to the incredible volunteers who left their homes and their jobs to go to New Orleans to rescue and care for other people’s pets. The book also features more than 70 touching photographs taken by Best Friends photographer Clay Myers. Like Cathy, Clay played an active part in the rescue. Cathy and Clay were joined Saturday afternoon by actress Ali MacGraw, who wrote the foreword to the book, and K-9 handler Cliff Deutsch, a Katrina rescuer featured on the book’s cover, for a book signing at the Best Friends Welcome Center. “I loved the book,” Ali says. “It made me weep.” Ali, who has starred in a number of stage and film productions, including the 1970 classic, “Love Story,” now makes her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She says she has been an animal lover her whole life. It was Ali’s first trip to Best Friends and she said she was impressed to see how happy and relaxed the animals were. Another cause for celebration that day was a $5,000 donation from the publisher of the book, Howell Book House, a division of Wiley Publishers. The money will help construct a new building for the potbellied pigs at Best Friends’ Piggy Paradise. Representatives from Howell presented the check to Best Friends at lunch Saturday at the sanctuary. It was a wonderful surprise for Yvonne McIntosh, manager of Piggy Paradise. “It’s awesome,” Yvonne says. “It’s just amazing!” At the book signing, Ali knelt down to pet Sprocket, one of the potbellied pigs at the sanctuary who spent most of the afternoon soaking up the attention and cooling off in a play pool in front of the Welcome Center. Also attending Saturday’s festivities were Ali’s son, filmmaker Josh Evans, and his wife, actress Charis Michelsen-Evans. “I got teary-eyed,” Charis says about touring the sanctuary. “To see all the animals so happy, well, it just touches my heart.” Pawprints of Katrina is quickly gathering nationwide attention. Cathy has been invited to participate in the 2008 National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted by First Lady Laura Bush, which will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on September 27. Photos by Sarah Ause, Barbara Davis and Clay Myers Pictured in photos (top) Ali MacGraw, Clay Myers, Cathy Scott; (center) Ali MacGraw and rescued dog, Lois Lane; (bottom) Cliff Deutsch and Marina, Cathy and her dog, Mia, Clay Myers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Publicity flash: Cathy Scott, book in the news

Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal All rights reserved. ------------------------------ Pictured, columnist John L. Smith July 16, 2008 Adoptions can't keep pace with unwanted pets in a struggling economy By John L. Smith Las Vegas Review-Journal The dogs of recession are howling. Can you hear them? Chances are good you will hear their desperate call soon as they bark for relief. Consider it one of the unintended consequences of the mortgage crisis and economic slump: Dogs and cats are turning up in increasing numbers at local animal shelters. Some are rounded up off the street or from vacant lots by neighbors or strangers sensitive to the pets' plight. Others are turned in by owners who tell shelter officials they've lost their homes and can no longer keep their animals. Shelter officials commonly hear all sorts of excuses from owners who wish to give up their pets. But until recent months they rarely heard from so many people who had lost their homes to foreclosure or their jobs to layoffs. For photographer and animal lover Denise Truscello, her sister-in-law's recent discovery of an emaciated blue pit bull sent her out into the desert near Decatur Boulevard and I-215 in search of the animal. When Truscello brought the dog to a local emergency animal clinic, it was little more than skin stretched over a rack of bones. Although the animal has gained eight pounds in recent days, its chances of finding a home are slim. "How could anyone do this to an animal?" she asks. "They just drop their dogs off. They should bring them somewhere. What is the point of leaving them behind?" Over at the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, adoption counselor D.J. Cogswell says the problem is the worst he's seen in the 10 years he's been associated with shelters. "It's sort of like this weird, double-edged sword," Cogswell says. "People are turning their animals in because they've lost their houses. And the houses are sitting empty and no one is moving in, so no one's adopting animals to give them new homes." Complicating matters is the fact the NSPCA has a no-kill policy, so when its kennel is full there's literally no room at the inn. Some pet owners, faced with taking their animal to a shelter that euthanizes unadoptable dogs and cats, leave them to fend for themselves. Cogswell first noticed the downward trend and common theme from distressed pet owners approximately six months ago. "We're taking in many more animals than we used to," he says. "With us, sometimes I have to say no because I'm crowded, and we don't have room, and we don't kill them here. "People get angry with me for not accepting their pet, but I'm just trying to do the best I can." At the Animal Foundation, co-director of operations Jim Seitz reports that surrenders and confiscations are up approximately 14 percent. Real estate agents have turned in pets left behind at abandoned homes. "Our adoptions are down," Seitz says. "We think it is primarily due to the economy, but a more global view is that they are moving into smaller places, and can't have an animal. The complex they're moving into doesn't allow pets." Author and journalist Cathy Scott, a longtime animal advocate, has experienced the trend personally. Her associates at Best Friends Animal Society recently received a spaniel and Maltese from a couple that had lost its home and jobs. The author of "Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned," a chronicle of the plight of the animals of New Orleans after the August 2005 hurricane and flood, Scott fostered the dogs until a permanent home could be found. "The fact is, you've got animals who had homes, and people with good intentions were taking care of them," Scott says. "Out of circumstances they couldn't control, they had to give up their animals. It inundates the shelters, and we already have a homeless (pet) population here in Las Vegas. When you have the economic problems in addition to it, it just exacerbates the problem. Unfortunately, we're a throwaway society, and animals are victims." For her part, Truscello continues to care for the abandoned pit bull. Trouble is, she already has a dog. She can't keep another. Sometimes, rescuing the animal is the easy part. With the economy flea-bitten, those real howls of desperation figure to only get louder. John L. Smith's column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

'A Winning Book'

The following review, posted on, is from author Norine Dresser, who for eight years wrote the "Multicultural Manners" column for the Los Angeles Times. Here's the review: Scott's book is completely absorbing. She reveals the astounding dedication to animals by humans who dedicate themselves to finding the separated and abandoned animals of the Katrina disaster and reuniting them with their bereft owners. This is an important social document. Above all, the book celebrates the human/animal bond. It's a must-read. To learn more about Norine's books, go here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Times-Picayune book review

Reunion photo in Tyertown, Miss., September 2005 Book editor Susan Larson with the New Orleans Times-Picayune ran nice review for Pawprints of Katrina book. To read it, go here (scroll down the page to find it). Photographer Clay Myers and I will be in New Orleans (at Barnes and Noble in the suburb of Metairie) for the third anniversary of Katrina at the end of August. I'm looking forward to seeing the city again and the rebuilding progress. Here's an excerpt from Susan's review: "Pawprints of Katrina describes the work of rescue in the flooded cities, paints vivid portraits of the animals and the rescue workers, and celebrates some of the joyous reunions that were made possible by Best Friends at what became known as Camp Tylertown."

Saturday, July 05, 2008

My Side of the Mountain

I recently stumbled across mention of one of my all-time favorite childhood books: My Side of the Mountain. I was captivated, literally, by 12-year-old Sam Gribley's year-long escape as a pre-teen to the Catskill Mountains. I devoured his descriptions of his hollowed-out tree home, picking berries, eating nuts and getting up close and personal with wildlife. My neighborhood friends, Vickie and Sharon, my sister, Cordelia, and I built (with help from older brother, Jon) what we called a fort in a canyon just behind our house. I loved the idea of living off the land. I must have been about 12 when I first read it. Every child daydreams about spending time on his or her own, and this was my dream, traveling to the mountains through Sam's mountain escape. I read the novel over and over when I should have instead been doing homework. I now have my own cabin in the mountains -- not the New York state Catskills, but in the Cuyamaca Mountains in southern California -- and will be living there eventually. It won't be quite like Sam's huge hollowed-out tree, but I do plan to be as green as I can -- including going off the grid and using solar energy. There are lots of oak trees, wonderful boulders and tons of birds on my property on my own side of a mountain. Now that I've been reminded of my escape into the pages of author Jean Craighead George's novel, I plan to re-read it. Just need to find a break between writing so I can read! EPILOGUE: Coudal Partners recently published my review of My Side of the Mountain. Also, childhood friend Vickie Pynchon reminded me in the summer that she was probably the one who loaned me a copy when we were kids. She was always ahead of the curve when it came to reading (still is).