Family is reunited with pit bull terrier after Hurricane Gustav

The mission was simple enough: find Cam the pit bull terrier.

Finding a pit bull after Hurricane Gustav

After waiting most of the day for the winds of Hurricane Gustav to drop below 50 miles per hour, Best Friends Animal Society’s search and rescue team hit the streets of Jefferson Parish. But would Cam be there? It had been more than 24 hours since the dog had first been reported alone in his back yard as the storm approached.

Cam, the beloved dog of Denea Junius and her two sons, was by a strange set of circumstances left behind Sunday afternoon as families fled the oncoming storm. His family had evacuated early and a neighbor — with full intentions of staying put through the storm — offered to watch the affable brindle-and-white pit bull.

But then the mandatory order to evacuate came and the neighbor, not knowing what else to do, called Best Friends. "Please go get Cam. We had to leave and we didn’t have room in the car," she pleaded. But as darkness set in and the bands of pelting rain came ashore, it was just too late to go get the dog.

Best Friends contacted Denea, by now evacuated to Dallas, Texas. She was grateful to hear from Best Friends and explained: "I understand why my neighbor had to leave. Her safety was important. And we remembered Best Friends from Katrina. My sister adopted one of the dogs Best Friends rescued. So thank you, and yes, please go get my dog."

Best Friends Rapid Response to the rescue

Late Monday, Best Friends Rapid Response Manager Rich Crook and his team went to the house and there he was—a very frightened Cam running around in a safely fenced, and locked back yard. Rich scaled the tall fence and dropped into the back yard. With the house locked, the only way to get Cam out was to hoist him over the fence.

"Cam’s a good dog, he put up with being pushed over a fence," Crook said. "I was able to call Denea and tell her we had the dog."

Because Cam’s family granted Best Friends permission to pick up their dog, Cam is safely tucked in at Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter tonight, where he will stay there until his family picks him up.

"Best Friends will stay in touch with the animal shelter and they will watch over him until Denea picks him up in a few days," Crook said.

Saving other dogs and cats after the storm

Meanwhile the team was able to determine on their first assessment that there are many, many more -- too many -- dogs and cats left behind to brave the storm. The team had to cut short their search mission because of rapidly deteriorating weather conditions. "Our full search and rescue team is arriving over night, and with the weather settling, we’ll be able to do full sweeps across the whole area, beginning tomorrow morning.

"We were unable to contact owners of the animals we spotted, so tonight we just noted their locations, made sure they were safe and secure, and left them fresh food and water. We will be back out first thing in the morning," Crook said.

Reuniting with their beloved family dog

Denea was overjoyed and her sons, ages 17 and 7, were cheering in the background when they heard the news that their dog would be waiting for them.

"We should be home in the next several days. My boys were so worried. We are so excited. You know, Cam’s a character. Besides playing ball with the boys, his favorite thing is to grab the welcome mat and run around the yard with it. He keeps us entertained."

In anticipation of his family’s return, Cam will surely have the welcome mat out.

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