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Fully Vetted: Help for the four-legged victims of Hurricane Harvey

As a graduate of the University of Texas and the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, the state of Texas is near and dear to my heart.  So today, I digress from my usual “Fully Vetted” format to shed some light on Hurricane Harvey’s four-legged victims. I am grateful to be able to use this platform as one way that I can provide assistance to Texas — my “home away from home” and a state I dearly love.

The biggest animal relief effort at this time is the relocation of pets that have been displaced by the storm. Many pets, following their natural instincts, fled their homes to seek shelter and higher ground. Many were left in their homes by families who were only able to evacuate their human family members. Some were swept away in floodwaters during the chaos and devastation of the hurricane.

Animal rescue efforts have been guided by lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina. After Katrina, local animal shelters were full, and rescuers were forced to turn to volunteers from other states for assistance. Many of these rescue efforts resulted in displaced pets being relocated across the country, making it extremely difficult, and most of the time, impossible, for them to be reunited with their families.

Current relief efforts are focusing on relocating pets that were already in Houston-area animal shelters to different shelters across the country.  The goal is to free up space in animal shelters in and around disaster zones, so that displaced animals may receive shelter in their hometowns.  This will make it easier for them to be reunited with their families, many of whom are also in hurricane relief shelters.

Availability of veterinary care in affected areas has also been affected by the hurricane.  At least 17 area veterinary practices have been severely debilitated by the storm, limiting or even eliminating their ability to care for the area’s pets. In response to increased need for veterinary care, many hurricane relief shelters that have opened their doors to families with pets, such as the George R Brown Convention Center and the NRG Convention Center in Houston, have also placed volunteer veterinarians on-site to provide veterinary care for ill and injured pets.

Many of these relief efforts are in need of supplies and monetary donations. The ASPCA has listed the following organizations as assisting with hurricane relief efforts, and in need of donations: The Houston SPCA, the SPCA of Texas (Dallas), the Austin Humane Society, Citizens for Animal Protection, Houston Humane, Cattery in Corpus Christi, Emancipet Houston, Galveston Animal Services, Companion Animal Alliance, and the Louisiana SPCA. The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team is also in need of donations.  Anyone interested in volunteering with rescue efforts is encouraged to register with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website at https://www.nvoad.org/.

Animobile Veterinary Services will also be accepting donated supplies that will be sent to the SPCA of Texas and The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team for their hurricane relief efforts. 

Dr. Kelly Sulik owns and operates Animobile Mobile Veterinary Services in Tryon, N.C. She can be reached at animobiledvm@gmail.com.

Want to help with hurricane relief for animals? Here are agencies that could use help:

Houston SPCA

SPCA of Texas (Dallas)

Austin Humane Society

Citizens for Animal Protection

Houston Humane

Cattery in Corpus Christi

Emancipet Houston

Galveston Animal Services

Companion Animal Alliance

Louisiana SPCA

Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team