Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricane Ike Impacting Pets, Rescues, and Shelters

The damage left in the wake of Hurricane Ike has displaced not only thousands of residents of the Texas Gulf Coast, it has displaced their pets as well. Fox News is reporting that the Houston SPCA will serve as the hub for animal shelter services during the crisis.

Houston SPCA President Patricia Mercer compared it to the Biblical ark, and the rescue center has taken in the Galveston Island Humane Society animals as well as those from the Brazoria County and Bay Area SPCA in Galveston County, she said. Some of the staff from the other organizations accompanied the critters to Houston.

To prepare for the influx, Houston moved about 300 of its own animals up for adoption to other shelters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and San Antonio and set up an animal rescue hotline. (Those needing help with their pets can call 713-861-0161 or toll-free 877-661-0161.)

"It's going to be the central point where calls for rescues come to us," Mercer said. "We will be dispatching our folks for the rescue of animals."

Mercer advised people who see or have animals in need of rescue to call the hotline. She said staff would be prioritizing the rescue efforts and working primarily on "the animals in the greatest danger." Veterinarians are on hand to perform surgeries as needed.

She also warned that there would likely be a flood of strays in the streets because of pets left behind in the storm. Animal control authorities will be taking care of them.

Luckily, help is on the way for the Houston SPCA. Mercer said teams from Colorado animal shelters as well as those from the Los Angeles and Louisiana SPCAs and others around the country are flying in to provide support.

Other sources report that Long Island, NY-based North Shore Animal League will be dispatching a team as well.

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