With Hurricane Harvey expected to ram the Texas coast early Saturday, whipsawing trees and homes and deluging communities, our HSUS Animal Rescue Team is working with local officials in the projected impact region to help evacuate animals. Our staff members have been working with emergency management offices, while our state director and other colleagues are sharing information about pet-friendly shelters with the public. We’re also assisting local shelters with their plans, and coordinating response options with our Emergency Placement Partners.
We place a high priority on working with public officials to encourage the inclusion of pets in their disaster planning and response efforts. Preparing for a disaster and repositioning animals is one of the most important tasks, and all of it should be done while the sun is shining and the hurricane is still out at sea.
Thus far, most coastal shelters in the threatened areas have evacuated their animals; our team has assisted in moving 60 animals out of Corpus Christi shelters and into SPCA of Texas in Dallas, one of our Emergency Placement Partners. Our senior state director in Texas, Katie Jarl, reports that the City of San Antonio Animal Care Services has set up an emergency sheltering system for evacuees arriving there with pets. We have received queries from Texans further inland asking how they can help and one way to do so is by taking in animals to foster, thereby reducing overcrowding in the shelters. Shelters that are taking in evacuees, like San Antonio Animal Care Services and SPCA of Texas, are also running low on essential dog supplies, and donations of items like newspapers, blankets, towels, and other pet supplies are welcome.
While we don’t yet know just how Harvey will upend wildlife or affect homed and homeless animals, we are preparing for a massive impact. Indicators are that this hurricane may be the strongest one to strike the U.S. mainland in 12 years. We are standing by to help as the need arises, armed with animal food, crates, carriers, and other supplies, along with emergency equipment and transport vehicles to evacuate and rescue animals.
Meteorologists are speculating that the Category 3 hurricane, as they’ve classed it now, may hover and deliver massive amounts of rain. If flooding occurs – and forecasters say three feet of rain may fall in some parts — that creates a separate set of problems, long after the winds have died down.
If you live in the affected region, please remember that if staying behind is not safe for you, it is not safe for your pets. This will be especially true as flood waters rise. If you are a pet owner in the area of impact, be mindful of evacuation orders and warnings, and heed the messages of your law enforcement and public safety officers. We are grateful to the City of Corpus Christi, which has taken the important step to consider all animals in their emergency plans. For more about what you need to plan and evacuate, visit us here.