Animal advocacy groups press on to save pets affected by #Harvey


People who work with pets and animals might soon notice a boom in the number of little creatures named Harvey.

At least two animal advocacy organizations are telling stories of animals saved in the wake of the former hurricane who rescuers named after the storm that battered Texas.

Those two animals – a baby sheep and a hawk – are among thousands of animals needing help after Harvey, which has left a death toll in the double digits. An army of organizations and workers are finding that the efforts to rescue and transport dogs, cats and other creatures is nearly as intense as that to help humans affected by Harvey.

 “We are actually ramping things up,” Katie Jarl, Texas state director of the Humane Society of the United States, told USA TODAY Friday.

“When you have a population of that many thousands upon thousands of people who have lost homes and people are using the news to just find their family members – can you imagine if it’s that difficult to find your mom and dad how difficult it is to find your cat?” Jarl said.

The rescue effort for thousands of pets affected by the storm will take years, said Jarl, adding that her long days and nights getting animals flown to other parts of the country, returned to owners, treated by veterinarians and rescued from danger have been “powered by coffee.”

Jarl’s organization is one of many that have coalesced to make sure people’s furry companions get to safety and health after the storm that pounded Texas. Every organization and private company that deals with animals seems to be involved: the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Best Friends Animal Society,, Wings of Rescue, PetSmart and many more.

The furry — and not so furry creatures — are often rattled by what has happened and sopping wet when they arrive to safety. Some have gotten sick while waiting for help. Some are found clinging to furniture, while others have been saved from drowning.

The efforts are massive:

— Best Friends Animal Society has taken over the 15-acre Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Conroe, Texas, and made it into Rescue and Reunite Center where animals are being reunited with owners or triaged.

— People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, was in hard-hit Port Arthur rescuing stranded animals by boat in scenes reminiscent of Noah’s Ark.

— On Thursday, a team representing the Humane Society went to hard-hit Rockport, Texas. The workers are sleeping in the local jailhouse because it is the only place still standing with enough beds for them and they are people who have lost everything, Jarl said.

At the Montgomery County Fairgrounds site, 30 employees with Best Friends Animal Society from all over the country were handling veterinary care, animal transportation and other duties, Eric Rayvid, director of public relations and content marketing for Best Friends, told USA TODAY.

“We’re bringing all animals rescued from the flood waters here and letting people know they can come here to find their pets,” said Rayvid, the sounds of barking at the fairgrounds site in the background.

Organizations and companies have donated money, goods and services too, animal advocates said. Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper Real Estate in San Antonio is inviting the public to a pet adoption event planned in conjunction with shelters.

The American Kennel Club Humane Fund has donated $10,000 and a trailer to help with the pet rescue to the city of Houston. paid for about 120 dogs and cats from a shelter in Louisiana to be flown by the humanitarian animal organization Wings of Rescue to Manassas, Va., on Saturday so they would have a safe place to live until they can be reunited with their families.

PetSmart Charities is giving upwards of $1 million in emergency aid and several truckloads  of pet food and supplies to help the animal advocacy groups working on the ground.

The animals that are the recipients of all this help are not always dogs and cats.  read more…


AgriLife Extension helping with sheltering animals displaced by #Hurricane#Harvey


The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is supporting community animal issues committees and local emergency management coordinators to set up animal sheltering sites around the state in anticipation of Hurricane Harvey.

“Forecasts have indicated there likely will be from 15-20 inches of rain and there could be record or extreme flooding, with most of the flooding expected in the area between San Antonio and Corpus Christi,” said Dr. Andy Vestal, AgriLife Extension specialist in emergency management, College Station. “Also, some meteorologists have predicted the storm may possibly change course and move toward the Houston area after it comes inland.”

Vestal said while emergency agencies are working to evacuate and accommodate people, AgriLife Extension is helping set up shelters for the many four-legged animals being displaced by the storm.

“AgriLife Extension personnel are coordinating with the Texas Animal Health Commission to develop a comprehensive list of shelters around the state and the types of animals those shelters can accommodate,” he said. “We are asking that anyone needing to shelter an animal call 2-1-1 for their area.”

Vestal said the 2-1-1 Texas program of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is committed to helping Texas citizens connect with the services they need.

He said AgriLife Extension is currently collaborating on accommodating smaller companion animals but soon will be addressing more of the sheltering need for larger animals, such as livestock.

One of the small-animal shelter sites already set up and taking in animals is in Huntsville.

“We’ve been working with the county’s office of emergency management to take in animals from people sheltering here in Walker County,” said Reggie Lepley, AgriLife Extension agent, Walker County. “The animals we’re taking in are the ones the owners feel will need food and shelter in the event of flooding or other serious weather conditions.”

Lepley said he and others staffing the shelter have been told to “expect anything” from people in that county bringing in their pets.

“We’re not just accommodating cats and dogs… we’re taking in whatever small animals we can to keep them safe,” he said “We’ve done this before and have had people bring in some pretty unusual companion animals.”

In Travis County, accommodations are already available for larger animals at the Travis County Expo Center.

AgriLife Extension agent Mellanie Mickelson has been coordinating with officials to help shelter some of the larger animals in that area.

“There are many shelters in Austin and the surrounding area to accommodate smaller animals, so it looks like most of the animals we’ll be sheltering will be larger,” Mickelson said.

“Right now, we’re expecting four horses and 40 goats, and there likely will be many more animals coming to the expo center over the next three to five days,” she said. “We estimate we have space available to accommodate about 200 animals.”

Vestal said AgriLife Extension will also collaborate with Texas Animal Health Commission to see if and where it will be necessary to set up Animal Supply Points for larger animals such as cattle, horses, pigs, goats and sheep. Members of the agency’s Animal Response Team will work with TAHC to establish locations where animals can get shelter and obtain fresh hay, feed and water. Read more…