Hurricane Harvey has had a catastrophic impact on regions all over Texas with its unprecedented flooding and damaging winds.
“This will be the worst natural disaster in American history,” Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather stated in a news release.
As impacted communities struggle to endure during the chaos of the storm, animals often get lost in the commotion.
During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there were an estimated 250,000 animals misplaced as a result of storm. Some pet owners put their lives at risk when they chose to stay at home with their pets rather than evacuate a dangerous situation.
This risk-taking behavior led to many changes in federal and state emergency guidelines with respect to animals, according to Michigan State Animal Law.
During Hurricane Harvey, rescue officials have stressed the importance of evacuees bringing their pets with them.
“It seems like everyone coming off a boat is carrying a dog or cat,” Monica Schmidt, a manager for the Houston Humane Society, told Reuters.
While legislation has been adjusted to assist animals affected by the storm, many more animals will be displaced in the aftermath.
Animal rescue groups are working together to execute plans to help animals both immediately and in the aftermath of the storm.
“The goal right now is to make space and as much room as possible at animal shelters for the next three to six months when the intake increases due to strays,” Denise Bash, the director of Special Projects at GreaterGood.org, said.
GreaterGood.org is working in partnership with Wings of Rescue and the Humane Society to remove animals from harm's way.
There have been five flights scheduled to transport pre-storm sheltered pets to shelters all over the United States. By moving these sheltered pets out of facilities, there will be more room for animals displaced from the storm.
GreaterGood.org, Wings of Rescue, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society and other animal rescue groups continue to work to develop recovery plans to protect animals affected by the storm.
The Humane Society provides guidelines on ways to help people and animals affected by the storm; tips include:
What to do:
- Challenge your friends and family to help.
- Donate online to animal rescue organizations.
- Spread the word on social media.
- Get the training you need to lend a hand in times of crisis.
- Many shelters in Texas are taking on the burden of lost, injured and evacuated animals during this emergency. You can help them make sure everyone is safe and cared for by donating the items included on their wish lists.
- Contact local officials in cases of animal emergencies.
What not to do:
- Do not put yourself in danger. If you see a person or animal in distress, call 911.
- Do not attempt to drive donation items to Texas, as many roads are closed due to flooding.
- It is also essential not to detract time or resources from emergency responders. Unless you are a trained professional who has already received official orders, do not “self deploy” to areas impacted by the hurricane.
- Do not call 911 unless you are experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening emergency firsthand.