During some of the worst effects of Hurricane Harvey, rescue workers and first responders were not just answering the call to save human lives. Other groups were working on new ways to save and shelter family pets.
According to the no-kill animal shelter Friends for Life, rescuers saved more than a thousand pets, from tiny guinea pigs to full-sized adult dogs.
When thousands of people showed up with their pets at the makeshift shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, shelter organizers turned away the animals. Friends for Life worked with the organizers and volunteers to bring in the pets and give both owners and their animals a safe place.
Efforts to protect pets came after reports surfaced of thousands of pet deaths after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Reports showed nearly 170,000 pets either perished or were left behind during that massive storm.
Groups like Friends for Life worked with emergency assistance groups and sheltering agencies to ensure that most Houstonians could rescue and shelter their pets during and after the storm.
Volunteers at the convention center and other shelters are stepping in to cover many pet care chores, from walking to grooming.
Donors are bringing in thousands of pounds of pet food for a wide range of animals.
Veterinarians and vet techs are volunteering to give pets some basic care, such as vaccines and heartworm medications.
Friends for Life and other pet advocacy groups are taking the lessons they’ve learned, both from Katrina and from Harvey, and creating new protocols for pet care during a disaster.
The new practices are expected to be compiled into a guidebook, which emergency management administrators can use in their care for pets and their owners.