By Andrew Pridgen / Tahoe Daily Tribune
She's finally home.
Savannah, the tawny-haired shepherd mix left homeless in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, experienced a journey that took her from Louisiana to Houston to San Francisco to Marin County to Sacramento and finally to Incline Village's Pet Network.
Friday, she boarded a plane in Reno headed for Louisiana.
"Yes, she's come so far and is such a sweet girl through it all," said adoption manager Susan Paul. "The staff here was elated when we found her home.
"But with that comes a little bit of sadness."
Savannah, as it turns out, is really named Brandy and her real home is Metairie, La.
By the time Tahoe Daily Tribune readers see her image in the paper today, Brandy and family will have been reunited.
Pet Network volunteers, upon receiving seven Katrina kittens and three dogs on Oct. 10, immediately began posting the dogs' images on petfinder.com, Paul said.
They waited for a response but none came.
"By the time (the animals) arrived here they had been on a long journey," Paul said. "The chances of reuniting any were slim."
Paul explained most estranged pet owners could not post pictures of their pets because many lost their mementos in the storm's devastation.
Some desperate owners posted detailed descriptions while others waited patiently with little hope, Paul said.
"She was such a sweet girl. We knew she would find a home," Paul said.
And she did.
A call came to Pet Network two weeks ago, the man on the line said he saw the picture of Brandy on the Web.
He was "90 percent sure the dog was his," Paul said.
Pet Network volunteers set up a Webcam so Brandy's family could take a closer look; although they still weren't 100 percent sure, Paul said.
Then a call was placed. Over a speaker phone Brandy's family called her name.
"She went running from across the room," Paul said. "And that was it."
Pet Network, through recent donations, was able to pay for Brandy's return trip back home.
"We're sad to see her go, but what a happy story," Paul said.
While the Katrina kittens have all been adopted, two other Katrina dogs, Okra and Gumbo, still seek homes. The two are available for foster care and will soon be cleared for adoption.
"These are special animals, and to reunite one with a family, we hope that brings back some normalcy to their home," said Pet Network executive director Steve Ricker. "One has had a happy ending ... so far."
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