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WA2S returned to Houston after being gone just one week. We had been in town for two weeks surveying stray dogs and filming with our rescue group partners.
Our planned departure date turned out to be just one day prior to Harvey descending upon and flooding Houston. In the aftermath, we knew we needed to return to support our friends and take stock of what post-Harvey human/animal interactions looked like.
Issues at the forefront are what happened to families with pets, pets that were left behind, and the countless stray dogs left to fend for themselves during and after Mother Nature’s fury. As a lesson learned from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there were shelters in the city that allowed people to bring their pets. I believe the awareness that families didn’t have to leave pets behind existed; people were empowered to save their animals and themselves.
Some pets sadly, did get left behind for one reason or another, but rescuers were saving dogs and other animals as soon as they were able to reach them. Rescue needs were communicated via social media, websites, emails and a cell phone walkie-talkie app called Zello
In order to prepare for the influx of dogs that would likely come in after the storm, Austin Pets Alive! transported dogs from Houston’s shelters, to Austin. These were dogs that did not have owners, and were looking for their forever homes. Though this helped, temporary triage centers and shelters had to be coordinated very quickly.
Austin Pets Alive! set up a temporary facility at Katy Mills. It contained housing and veterinary services for animals brought in once rescued.
Best Friends Animal Society set up shop at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds accepting, housing and vetting any and all dogs and cats that needed help.
The Houston SPCA was receiving dogs, cats, horses and livestock in Beaumont at the Ford Park Entertainment Center. This location came under scrutiny when it was rumored that pit bulls went in but didn’t come out alive. It was all over social media to take this breed of dog to Montgomery County or they would be killed.
It has not been confirmed whether this was a truth. Interestingly, a few days later, the Houston SPCA shut down operations in Beaumont and relocated the animals to their facility in Houston. Their communications person has not returned our calls as of this publication.
We learned that Austin Pets Alive! , Houston Pets Alive!, Best Friends Animal Society will be joining forces and consolidating operations at NRG Arena. We met up with them while they were setting up temporary “MASH” type facility in an old grocery store until NRG Arena was ready.
We were fortunate enough to snag a couple of minutes of time from Ellen Jefferson, Executive Director of Austin Pets Alive! And she shared with us their mission: Save animal’s lives, reunite them
with their families, and find them a home if they don’t have one, in that order. Everything they do is for the animals.
They will continue to take in animals “as long as they keep coming.” Dr. Jefferson sees that the people of Houston really care about the lives of their animals and is working toward reaching no-kill status in Houston, as it is in Austin.
The sheer numbers of volunteers it takes to keep all of these shelters running is staggering. The volunteers are local as well as from all across the United States and are working long hard hours – all for the sake of the animals.
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WA2S Films is: Deanna Vollano & Tom McPhee
WA2S Films productions are filmed on Sony, Panasonic, and DJI camera systems
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