The dogs of the Big Easy are on their own again

Animal welfare volunteers and public health experts say many of the animals still roaming the streets are pit bulls trained to fight for human amusement, and others are simply being pushed to extremes by the need to survive. "We're seeing dogs eating dead dogs," a volunteer helper, Wendy Guidry, told The New York Times.

Right up until the evacuation order for Rita, dogs were being rescued. In contrast to the way the human population was treated, the animals attracted an outpouring of energetic and compassionate effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Thousands separated from their owners were evacuated and taken to special shelters in nearby towns and cities.

But since the pet population of New Orleans was as high as 70,000 before the storm, thousands if not tens of thousands of animals are still having to fend for themselves. As time goes on, more and more are being found in seriously ill health. About 60 animals have had to be put down.

The howling of dogs - from rooftops, from the upper floors of flooded buildings, and from the streets - was one of the most haunting characteristics of the city in the days after the storm. But rescuers wading through the streets would occasionally hit an unexpected obstacle beneath the surface - frequently a dead dog lying where it drowned.