Image: Joseph Gadel, 77, of New Orleans, gets a kiss from his dog, Daisy.
Phelan M. Ebenhack  /  AP
Joseph Gadel of New Orleans gets a kiss from his dog Daisy upon their reunion at the Orlando airport on Wednesday. The Gadels had to leave Daisy behind when they evacuated New Orleans.
updated 11/17/2005 9:17:49 AM ET 2005-11-17T14:17:49

As Hurricane Katrina approached New Orleans, Ann Gadel and her family crammed into a small car and fled north. But there was no room for Daisy, a 70-pound boxer-Doberman mix.

Daisy was left behind in the house with the windows boarded up. When they realized their neighborhood had been flooded, they thought there was no hope for the dog.

“At the time we thought we’d be back in a few days,” said Gadel, 47. “When we realized our house was pretty much a total loss, I was heartbroken that we had to leave her behind. I cried my eyes out.”

'Happiest day of my life'
Daisy defied the odds and survived, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sent the dog in a truck to Ohio along with three others rescued in New Orleans. On Wednesday, Daisy flew from Cleveland to Orlando, Fla.

“I can’t believe she’s alive,” Gadel said shortly after being reunited with Daisy. “This is the happiest day of my life.”

Gadel, now living in Titusville, Fla., with her father and three adult siblings, said Daisy has been in the family for seven years.

After Katrina, Daisy’s picture was spotted on the Animal Emergency Response Network, a Web database created by www.petfinder.com for animals from the recent hurricanes.

In good condition
Daisy was in good condition when she arrived in Ohio, say shelter workers, who helped identify her.

Eric Rayvid, a spokesman in New York for the ASPCA, said it wasn’t unusual for Daisy to end up in another state — more than 300 animal shelters or rescue groups in about 40 states are housing hurricane-displaced animals.

Gadel says the big mystery is how Daisy got out of the house and survived the flood waters.

“I was so thrilled,” she said. “I didn’t think it was even possible Daisy was still alive.”

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