HSUS rescuers wade through Texas floods to save, evacuate animals

By on August 30, 2017 with 22 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

During Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, it felt like The HSUS and other animal groups not only fought surging waters, rain, and wind, but we also had to fight some government agencies and key private agencies whose leaders just didn’t get it when it came to animal welfare. In the early stages of the response, some first responders had instructions not to take animals to safety, despite the pleadings of their caregivers. Human shelters, which filled up because of mandatory evacuation orders, excluded animals. That caused some people to refuse to leave their homes, because they wouldn’t abandon their best friends during a life-threatening crisis. The inattentiveness to the bond between animals and the people who care about them put everybody at risk, and it undermined and complicated the disaster response. It also meant that The HSUS and other animal protection groups had to mount the largest-ever pet rescue operation to find pets trapped in homes, especially in New Orleans, which would be shuttered to its residents for weeks because of the levee break and the massive flooding that followed.

We helped move animals from Corpus Christi in advance of the storm. We are now moving animals from San Antonio, Houston, and New Orleans to make room in shelters. Above, HSUS District Leader Nikki Prather loads dogs onto a plane for transport to San Antonio, Tuesday. Photo by Darren Abate/AP Images for The HSUS

A dozen years later, as we look upon the immense damage that Harvey has wrought in an area larger than the state of New Jersey – and with more than 14 trillion gallons of water swamping the region — it’s evident that there’s been a sea change in attitudes. The government and human-focused charities get it now, recognizing that for disaster response to work, they must take into account the animals and the human-animal bond. It’s the right thing to do for the animals, who shouldn’t drown or die from abandonment, thirst, or hunger. And it’s right for the people, who love their animals and consider them members of the family.

Now, as we turn on the television to get the latest images from the impacted area, we cheer for every high-water rescue. (Our team is on the ground, doing lifesaving work.) We are out to save our pets and horses, to help animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centers in the path of the storm, and to keep our communities whole. But we must also recognize the certainty of unseen tragedies. Drama often unfolds out of sight, and there is so much loss and suffering.

Today, our teams are doing rescue and response in Dickinson and League City, both in Galveston County. We’ve already been to Corpus Christi and Texas City.

The HSUS Animal Rescue Team delivers supplies to people with pets who were affected by the hurricane. Photo by Anthony Rathbun/AP Images for The HSUS

We are also doing transport. We helped move animals from Corpus Christi in advance of the storm hitting. We are also moving animals from San Antonio, Houston, and New Orleans in order to make room in shelters for victims of the storm and its aftermath. Working with San Antonio Animal Care Services, Wings of Rescue and GreaterGood.org, we flew 53 animals to St. Hubert’s Humane Society in New Jersey yesterday. Today we are sending about the same number of animals to partners in Washington state. Later this week, we will send animals to Oregon. In the days ahead, we’ll be transporting larger numbers of animals to Oklahoma and to Virginia.

Members of the HSUS Animal Rescue Team rescue a cat stranded inside a home. Photo by Anthony Rathbun/AP Images for The HSUS

The damage estimate for Harvey is $160 billion – which would make it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, and equal to the combined total of Katrina and Sandy. The flooding has damaged so many homes, and that’s going to create a housing crisis for people. That means a similar crisis for animals.

All of that means we are focused both on short-term search-and-rescue needs and also on long-term needs of making the community whole again. Your generous support over the last few days has been extraordinary. We are especially grateful to the Alex & Elisabeth Lewyt Charitable Trust on Long Island, and to Doris Day and her Doris Day Animal Foundation for their generous support. If you’ve donated already, thank you. And if you can dig deeper to support this life-saving work, please donate to our Disaster Relief Fund so we can answer the call when disaster strikes, now and in the future.

Text LOVE to 20222 to donate $10* to the Disaster Relief Fund or donate here»

*Message and data rates may apply. A one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. Terms and conditions can be found at www.hmgf.org/t

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals

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  1. Annoula Wylderich says:

    So proud and thankful for this great organization, which I included among my donations for victims.

  2. Denise says:

    Thank you for everything that you do for all animals. Keep up your great hard work in saving animals from Hurricane Harvey. I donated to your disaster relief and I’m a proud member of The Humane Society of the U.S. I’m praying for all the people in Texas and all the animals that are in harms way that all will be rescued and safe.

  3. opal says:

    Im sure Everyon, ( including the animals) appreciate any help and care they get. Good job, People! OUR Animals are FamILY too.

  4. Katie says:

    Can we adopt any of these abandoned dogs???????

    • Angela Miller says:

      Contact your local HS, (Humane Society) or SPCA, (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). In Ohio, the SPCA is having an emergency meeting for those who can be foster parents. If the owners don’t come forward, the animals will be up for adoption. Many of animals are being evacuated from TX shelters. They already needed a home. These animals will be in various shelters across the US for adoption. A HS or SPCA in your state, should be able to direct you to shelters, who numbers will be increasing due to incoming pets from TX.

      • Kim says:

        I would like to adopt too… I live in Charlotte, NC… do you know if they are coming this far? We have a loving home to give a forever home. Please advise.

      • Elaine Hutzelman says:

        Houston thanks you for being her to help. I saw one of your trucks. Animals are part of one’s family for most of us and they were allowed in most all shelters, but in separate areas. East TX needs help with lots of cattle.

  5. Judy Bradberry says:

    We are seeing the living results of all the hard legislative work that got PETS passed so that people do not have to choose between their own lives and the lives of their loved ones in this disaster as so many had to do during Katrina and previous disasters. Thanks for the “pre-work” that is allowing today’s work to happen.

  6. Diane says:

    Keep up this important work for those that can’t help themselves! Thank you!

  7. Priscilla Casey says:

    It is people like all of you who restore my faith in mankind. Thank you for helping all these innocent animals who can not help themselves. All these animals are just has deserving of being saved has any human is. I pray for all the animals to be rescued and for all those who rescue them.

  8. Jennifer Crone says:

    Thank you all 💛 I am a dog caretaker in Washington DC and am especially good with rescue dogs. I open up my home to dogs who need to be fostered or cared for if you are sending any to DC – I can also pick them up from Virginia if need be. Please let me know if I can help.

    Jennifer jennifereliz@gmail.com

  9. Sallt says:

    Thank you to all the heros to save all the animals and pets. You guys have really a good heart. God bless all of you. I am from Singapore. How can I help?

  10. Peggy McCarthey says:

    I am heartened to see the many animals being rescued in Texas. I donated to the Disaster Relief Fund and am a proud volunteer for HSUS!

  11. Sherry Stewart says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your hard work for the animals
    who have suffered from Hurricane Harvey!
    Animals are smart and have emotions just like humans, but right now they are
    scared and don’t understand what has happened to them and their owners!!
    I made a donation for the animals and people too.
    God did not cause Harvey, but if you believe in him just pray and he will answer you and he help you!!

  12. Karyn says:

    This disaster in Texas has brought the best out in humanity. It is so heartwarming to see mercy and compassion be the leading force. Prayers for all the volunteers fighting to save a life and risk their own.My heart and prayers for the families that lost loved family members and loved pets. The Lord is merciful. God bless you all. I will continue to lift Texas and Louisiana in prayer. I will be making a donation and will find a way to help.

  13. Cheryl Anne Koch says:

    Thank you so very, very much for the efforts you put in to saving our animals every day. I am a mom of nine rescue kitties and can relate to staying behind with them…leaving wouldn’t be an option. It is organizations like yours who put the humane in humanity. I haven’t donated yet but I will immediately after writing this. Again, thank you and please be careful out there in TX.

  14. Diana says:

    We are going through difficult times in our county like many others worldwide and the effort to rescue the innocent lives of animals feels me with hope for the human race. To help those who cannot help themselves is is a sure sign of compassion in all of us. Thank you so much for being guardians of these loved companions.

  15. Dianne P. says:

    I watched the news closely and it made me so sad to see everyone emerging with their DOGS–but barely no one carrying CATS (or cats in carriers). WHY??? And what about all the FARM animals, and HORSES?!

    • Elaine Hutzelman says:

      Horses were rescued as well – see if you can find the farm animal staging area in Beaumont, TX. It is far from Houston, but rescue groups drove over 100 miles to help out. There is a video of it as well, so try and Google it to see.

  16. Bonnie E. says:

    During the rescue of animals at the time of Hurricane Katrina, the HSUS called upon civilian volunteers to assist with the care of the displaced animals as time went on and the volume of animals needing assistance increased. I did volunteer for ten days at that time and if the need arose would do it again. I live in MA and also would be willing to help foster if any animals are sent to this region.
    Until then, thank you for all the extremely difficult and emotionally draining work that all the animal rescue groups are doing. I feel inadequate just donating money but I do know that it requires and will take enormous sums of money to continue caring for these animals.

  17. carol spark says:

    I tried to leave my email address for weekly updates but I kept being redirected to a page telling me my email address is invalid!! But it isn’t.
    I am so happy to read how your organisation is helping animals as I live in South Africa and only see big disaster and rescue stories concerning humans. I know I would never leave my animals and would fight tooth and nail to remain with them.

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