Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ali MacGraw helps launch 'Pawprints of Katrina'

By Sandy Miller Courtesy Bestfriends.org 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.

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