In the midst of the disaster in Texas that has come in the form of Hurricane Harvey, the worst hurricane since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, animal safety advocates are working extra hard. After many animals were left homeless and stranded when Katrina hit Louisiana, animal safety advocates are doubling down to ensure that the same mistakes do not happen. They are working together diligently to clear shelters throughout Houston and other areas to house animals that have been displaced by Harvey.
The effort is nationwide and is being spearheaded by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), GreaterGood.org, the Humane Society of the United States, Wings of Rescue and other organizations. The organizations are working together to fly any homeless dogs and cats in overly populated shelters in Texas to other facilities throughout other areas of the country. The dogs and cats will be available for adoption and the shelters throughout Texas are being used to house pets who have been lost or abandoned as a result of Hurricane Harvey and the massive flooding it has brought with it.
Katie Jarl, the senior state director of the Humane Society of Texas, stated that she’s been a Texas resident her entire life but never saw anything as crazy as the hurricane, which was later downgraded to a tropical storm. She added that the Humane Society got to work a few days before bad weather struck and that workers began to clear out Corpus Christi shelters that were in the direct path of Hurricane Harvey.
Jarl reported that by Monday, August 28, her organization was prepared to send around 100 dogs from a shelter in San Antonio to a different one in the northeast. She added that the goal is to get the animals adopted.
Wings of Rescue, an organization based in Livermore, California, has been flying dogs and cats from Texas to other areas of the United States.
Cindy Smith, founder of Wings of Rescue, stated that the pets were being flown out of Texas and to other states to make room in Texas shelters for any animals displaced by the hurricane. She added that all the dogs and cats would be going to no-kill shelters.
On Monday, August 28, the organization flew 108 dogs and cats out of shelters throughout Louisiana to make room for animals that have been displaced. The company has its own cargo plane. Then, the plan for Tuesday, August 29 was to fly animals from San Antonio to Morristown, New Jersey and on Wednesday to fly animals from San Antonio to Washington, according to Smith. There was also an additional flight from Lafayette, Louisiana to Colorado Springs, Colorado in the works.
Jarl said that everyone, including the animals, has been coming together to make it all work. She stated that although the animals are sensitive to all the confusion, they seemed to understand that everything going on was to benefit them.
Jarl concluded that pet owners have learned from Katrina and that instead of leaving their pets behind, they have been taking their animals with them when evacuating their homes in Houston. She said she saw more people with animals than possessions.