The hope is that no pet will be left behind.
Even though Hurricane Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday, Texas is still at risk for heavy rains and life-threatening floods over the next few days. As people hurry to find appropriate shelter, they’re also worrying about their beloved animals.
Many safe places for humans put restrictions on four-legged creatures, so local animal shelters and Humane Society facilities have been taking in those pets.
The Humane Society of the United States did not have preliminary numbers to give HuffPost, but said that its field responders were already en route to Corpus Christi to aid recovery efforts.
“At that point, HSUS responders will work with city officials to assess needs related to animal welfare,” a spokesperson for the Humane Society told HuffPost. “Once a full assessment is conducted, there will likely be a need to rescue animals impacted by the storm.”
The National Hurricane Center has warned that southeast Texas could ultimately see anywhere from 15 to 40 inches of rain before the storm finishes its projected course.
As Dallas residents evacuated to city shelters on Saturday morning, many didn’t realize that furry family members wouldn’t be allowed in, according to NBC5. The city’s animal shelters responded by picking up the pets and providing them shelter.
“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,” the Humane Society said in a press release on Friday.
Shelters in the badly affected Gulf Coast areas had already evacuated animals by Friday evening, when Harvey escalated to a Category 4 hurricane. Sixty animals were transferred from Corpus Christi to the Dallas chapter of the SPCA of Texas alone, according to the Humane Society. The SPCA said the Dallas location was prepared to take in 300 animals and would further evaluate its space if the need arose.
“Additionally, the SPCA of Texas is putting out a call for foster homes to help us care for the animals already in our shelters and those coming from the Gulf Coast,” the organization said in a press release. “We will continue to need fosters for the pets in our care as we bring in more animals.”
Texas isn’t the only state where pets may be displaced from their homes. In Louisiana, cities like New Orleans are braced for flooding and have already sent animals on to cities out of Harvey’s way, such as Atlanta.
After Hurricane Katrina flooded and destroyed parts of New Orleans in 2005, people urged Congress to take action to save animals as well as humans. The Louisiana SPCA estimates that tens of thousands of animals died as their owners abandoned them and sufficient rescue services weren’t available.
The Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act was passed in 2006 to ensure that animals wouldn’t be forgotten when emergency preparations were made.