"Animal Evacuations In A Post-Katrina World"

September 23rd, 2008 11:59 pm by Kelly Garbato

Kinship Circle - 2008-09-22 - SOS From Texas - Animals After Ike 06 (larger)

The five little terrier-mix dogs had been left behind on Galveston Island by their owner. Alone and frightened they watched as the storm surge began to rush into their home. As the water continued its relentless rise, they jumped to the top of a table and that’s where Houston SPCA rescue teams found them trembling and whimpering in fear. The high water mark was over their heads and our rescue teams knew in their hearts that these little dogs spent most of the night swimming for their lives. But they had a strong will to live and thanks to the Houston SPCA, they also have a second chance at life.

Houston SPCA rescue teams are in a race against time to safe innocent storm victims like these who were left behind on the Island to fend for themselves. Thousands of dogs, cats, horses, puppies and kittens, birds and other pets have found a safe haven at the Houston SPCA.

Sigh.

I have five dogs.

Four are what you might call “terrier mixes.”

The looong dog, standing on the leftmost corner of the table, kind of reminds me of Ralphie, our dachshund.

In fact, the whole group kind of resembles my pack. A bit scragglier, a bit scrappier, but…I can see it. Five little runts, just like my guys and girls. Five sweet, innocent, loyal, unconditionally loving little mutts. Five friends for life. Five reasons for living.

I can barely stand leaving them alone for a few hours: while I go to dinner, to the movies, or – dog forbid – out for the day.

Hell, I feel bad when I have to crate Kaylee in the bedroom while I take a shower in the next room.

So, how does one look at those sweet little faces…and leave them, alone, knowing full well that a hurricane is fast approaching? How?

And that’s not even to mention the creature who – presumably – was “living” in the cage next to the table.

I feel like I should clarify here that, yes, sometimes elderly, disabled, and impoverished animal guardians face obstacles in evacuating with their companions. Maybe that was the case here; maybe it wasn’t. After Katrina, the importance of preparing disaster response plans for both human and non-human animals alike became readily apparent. While the evacuation plans didn’t go off without a hitch in the face of Gustav and Ike, there were plans – not to mention plenty of forewarning.

This didn’t need to happen.

Our animal friends lost everything in the storm but hope.

Please check out the Disaster Relief section of this website to see what you can do to help the victims of Hurricane Gustav and Ike. I started accumulating disaster relief alerts and resources in the days after Katrina – and I continue to update and maintain the page(s) as a tribute to the thousands of animals that needlessly perished in Hurricane Katrina, as well as the many natural and man-made disasters since.

(Photo and excerpts from Houston SPCA’s “updates from the [Hurricane Ike] frontline”; post title lifted from this Kinship Circle alert.)

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