The Once and Future Afghan: The Story of How Disaster Saved One Dog's Life

By Carrie Allan

The animal who came in last night to the disaster response staging area in Hattiesburg, Mississippi was, technically, an Afghan. But he no longer had any of the qualities that make these animals so beautiful.

Surrendered to the disaster response teams by an owner in Mississippi, the male dog showed signs of long-term starvation, beyond the effects of the rough days since Katrina roared through. He was horribly matted and filthy, and once the veterinary team began carefully and gently shaving away the matted clumps of fur, his naked skin was revealed: It was papery and crusted with infection. His feet were also matted, his nails grown into long, thorny hooks, and his front feet were so infected beneath the matting that each toe was raw, pink, and weeping. He was so thin he could barely stand, and his ribs—every one of them visible—heaved slowly as veterinarians examined and began to treat him.

It was obviously the first TLC the dog had gotten in a long time., LONG BEFORE KATRINA HIT. He stood trembling, his pitiful hipbones protruding and his tail tucked between his legs. The team got an IV drip into the dog to get some fluids into him. The dog didn't flinch or whimper at the needle. He just stood gazing at Rick Chaboudy, a responder from the Humane Society who offered the dog fingers full of food. "It's a good sign that he's eating. A lot of times when a dog is this far gone, he won't even want to eat," Chaboudy said grimly.

The staff agreed that the dog was in for round-the-clock veterinary monitoring and a long rehab period. But they hope that more care and medical treatment will get the dog looking like an Afghan again. His rescue may turn out to be one silver lining of Katrina's storm clouds.

" If it wasn't for the hurricane, this guy would have just died from horrendous Neglect."

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