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Displaced Katrina pets still waiting for reunions

Progress still slow in getting furry friends back to owners, with some shelters facing closure. NBC News correspondent Martin Savidge reports.
/ Source: TODAY

For people who lost so much in the Gulf region after Hurricane Katrina, losing their family pet seemed unimaginable and finding them again almost impossible. NBC  News correspondent Martin Savidge found one story of two cats where hope prevailed.

Now living in Las Vegas, 72-year-old Shirley Washington feared two loved ones never made it out alive from her home in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She was wrong.

Sassy and Cali were rescued and over the weekend, reunited with the owner who had missed them so desperately.

"Just searching and hoping and praying that I would get them back and it's happened," says Washington.

They are the lucky ones. Many Katrina pets still wait for their reunions in cages at facilities around New Orleans.

Since the first weeks after the hurricane the group Best Friends has been collecting and caring for them.

They've rescued 7,000 animals — 275 are still here, unclaimed or unwanted.

Call them special needs pets — so traumatized by Katrina or their life of loneliness afterwards, many just cower in the corner.

"She's probably been out on the streets for 6-months, and thanks to all the food and water stations she's managed to survive … but she's super, super shy," says Juliette Watt about one dog. Watt is a volunteer coordinator for Best Friends.

Red's the exception. He's the fastest thing on two feet and two wheels. He was struck by a car just after Katrina and was partially paralyzed. Unable to care for the dog his owner left Red.

But now, another sad twist — Best Friends has lost its lease and the shelter must close.

Volunteers are feverishly working to relocate the animals to other facilities around the country and determined to make sure none of these Katrina victims go homeless again.