As Tropical Storm Barry barrels toward Louisiana, threatening to dump several feet of water on parts of the state, we are helping transport animals who are up for adoption at shelters in the area to safety with our rescue partners. Barry promises to be particularly destructive – evoking fearful memories of Katrina for many residents – and we are working hard to ensure that we help as many animals as possible before it strikes.
Today, ahead of the storm, which is expected to make landfall Saturday, we’re flying out more than 120 cats and dogs, most of them from St Landry Animal Care and Control and a few from St. Martin Animal Shelter. Both shelters are located just outside Lafayette, which is in the path of the storm. The St. Landry’s shelter houses many of its animals in cages outdoors and it was crucial that we assist in efforts to get the animals out before the storm strikes.
We’re bringing the animals to Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia, just outside Washington. Once the animals land, our staff members and volunteers will distribute them among our Shelter and Rescue Partners, including Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, Angels of Assisi, Humane Rescue Alliance, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA and Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.
We are also coordinating and funding the ground transport of adoptable animals from Louisiana SPCA and Terrebonne Parish Animal Shelter to Atlanta Humane and Cashiers Highlands Humane Society; that transportation is being provided by Charleston Animal Society.
The transports help to ensure that there will be room at Gulf Coast region shelters for the inevitable influx of animals that happens after every disaster or emergency. It also ensures that animals already at those shelters are spared the distress of living through a storm or hurricane. Storms can be terrifying for animals, with the loud noises and winds that accompany them, and they can be especially frightening for animals in shelters.
Our thoughts are with those individuals who are evacuating, and their pets. We’re messaging and reaching out to recommend suitable practices, and working closely with authorities to implement appropriate response actions. If you live in the path of the storm, here are some tips on making a disaster plan for your pets and putting together a disaster preparedness kit. Please remember that pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed, so it is extremely important to include them in your evacuation plans.
In recent years, a series of severe weather events have challenged us to step up our disaster response services. Our experience in Louisiana post-Katrina, in 2005, especially led us to revise our approach on how we respond to such situations. Now, when our Animal Rescue Teams at the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International hear of a storm or hurricane approaching, we reach out immediately to our shelter and rescue partners in the area. We take quick and proactive action to move animals to safety before disaster strikes, get the word out to people in the path of the storm on how to keep their animals safe, and help to put the pieces back together in the aftermath of disaster.
This is only the start of the hurricane season, and we will doubtlessly be called in to assist with many more such events in months to come. As we head into hurricane season, your support will make a big difference in helping us reach the most animals and ensure their safety during this and other natural disasters and whenever animals are in need of urgent rescue. There are many stakeholders who look to us when disasters and other emergencies arise, and you make it possible for us to help them.
Editor’s note: The number of animals in the transport has been updated for accuracy.