After a year apart, Katrina evacuee reunited with pet - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

After a year apart, Katrina evacuee reunited with pet

A Louisiana woman who was forced to give up her dog in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was reunited with her pet Thursday.  It was an emotional reunion with a dog she thought she had lost for good.

Sonjia Campista lost her Slidell, Louisiana, home and her job when Hurricane Katrina swept through the region in 2005.  It meant starting her life over, and letting someone else take care of her dog, Junior.

"It would have been hard because I didn't know where I was going to stay because people weren't getting trailers right away," she said.

Campista evacuated to Memphis, and was lucky enough to find a veterinarian who promised to take care of Junior at no charge.  It was a heart wrenching decision, as she told the vet she mighty never come back. Still, they decided if she could trust them to take care of Junior, they could trust her to come back.

Campista was astounded.  "It's a special type of people that would take in animals and treat them like their own and take care of them," she said. "They didn't expect me to give them any money or nothing."

Nearly a year later, part of Campista's reunion with Junior was made possible by the Memphis Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who helped pick up some of the bills for Junior and other animals in his situation.

Nina Wingfield of the Memphis ASPCA said animals effected by the disaster deserved to be treated like family members.  "The health and well being of your family is so important during a disaster, and if we can be part of that recovery, then we want to be right behind the community," she said.

Campista couldn't be more thankful to the Memphians who helped her, or more excited to get her life and dog back. "It's great," she said. "It's great to have the dog back.  They're like a member of the family, and they really are."

A member on his way home, ready to start his own new life.

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