Jenny to the rescue WordsAndPictures: Dog-lover writes about rescuing her animal-friend, Kate
" [I wanted] to tell the story of how much it [Hurricane Katrina] affected one dog; multiply that by how many people and animals that were affected-that's a huge thing."
- Jenny Pavlovic
by Theresa Bernard
Jenny Pavlovic's a woman with a lot in her food bowl. She's a full-time biomedical engineer and pet owner with a penchant for spending countless hours following her passions-namely, rescuing dogs who are out of luck or almost out of chances.
Now Pavlovic is also in full-swing publicity mode for her book "8 State Hurricane Kate." The self-published, first-time author has spent nearly all her vacation time traveling to do her own promotion, but is lucky to have a network of dog-rescue volunteers that already spans the country-and, in fact, the globe. Some of these friends are people she's only met online-those who followed the stories she told about a dog named Kate who was rescued from Hurricane Katrina.
Pavlovic met Kate in the devastating heat of Louisiana in September of 2005, just after Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent levy failures changed the lives of thousands of people and animals. Pavlovic had traveled on her own from Minnesota to help with the animal-rescue effort. "I couldn't find anyone here that could go with me and I'm sure a lot of [people] were thinking that it was a foolish thing to do," she said. "I understand that ... but for me it was something I had to do. If it's important to you, you should be able to trust yourself to do something about it."
Pavlovic worked 16-hour days walking, watering and feeding dogs who were in various states of mind and body. Up one aisle and down the next, with the never-ending drone of fans and barking. An Australian cattle dog named Kate, who had bad teeth, caught Pavlovic's eye. The teeth weren't Kate's only problem. Her back was bad, she was scared of certain noises and hypersensitive about defending herself. Kate was traumatized, and so was Pavlovic after seeing the destruction of hurricane Katrina and the consequences that befell so many animals. The location where she spent a week volunteering was trying to serve hundreds of animals with not enough help and little organization.
Home to Minnesota
Pavlovic knew she needed to get Kate out of there. But, as she said in the book, "I didn't go down there to get a dog ... she had been left behind at least once already and I couldn't let that happen again." So Pavlovic drove back home to Minnesota through eight states with a very scared and tired dog.
The following months of caring for Kate were sometimes sad and sometimes joyful. Pavlovic began connecting online with people she had met in Louisiana and with others who shared a love of Australian cattle dogs. They followed Kate's story as Pavlovic struggled to socialize her with the other animals in the house and care for her physical needs. Kate had been diagnosed with a myriad of other illnesses.
And Pavlovic had her own problems to deal with. Many of her animal rescue acquaintances were left with post-traumatic stress disorder, which Pavlovic believes she also had to deal with. "A lot of people took on more than they were prepared to handle," she said. Communicating with people who understood, and who were rooting for Kate, was part of her healing process. "I had no idea how many people were following Kate's story," she said of the immense number of responses to her Internet postings about Kate.
But friends and strangers alike cared about Kate's story and had begun to see Pavlovic as a jewel of dog-rescue information. This status still comes as a surprise to her. "I've had all these people look to me as a leader and I thought I was kind of winging it!" Pavlovic said.
Time to write
But there were two things Pavlovic wanted to do as a girl: care for dogs and write. "[Writing] must have been in the back of my mind for long time," she said.
Writing Kate's story was partly a cathartic experience, but Pavlovic also wanted to remind people to look outside their own worlds and care about another's plight. "It was frustrating that in another part of our country this huge tragedy had happened and a lot of people didn't seem to know much about it. [I wanted] to tell the story of how much it affected one dog; multiply that by how many people and animals that were affected-that's a huge thing."
Kate's plight showed Pavlovic that making a difference doesn't have to mean saving the world, but taking what you have and doing what you can. Pavlovic is donating 50 percent of the book's profits to help other animals in serious need, but that isn't the most important part of her rescue work. "People can do a lot more than they thought just by staying in communication," she said. "It's too much for any one individual maybe but there's a lot of people who can do a little bit and it makes a huge difference. A lot of people got that out of the book and think, 'oh yeah, I could do this.'"
If You Go What: Book signing by author Jenny Pavlovic to benefit Safe Hands Animal Rescue Where: Fetch Delivers offices,
2303 Kennedy St. NE, Suite 100, Minneapolis When: Sunday, Nov. 16, 1-4 p.m.
FFI Buy the book! www.8statekate.net
50 percent of proceeds donated to canine
Posted: Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Article comment by:
This book is amazing! What courage and compassion this young woman has - and what sacrifice! Thank you for sharing her story!