Fur and High Water Navigating the Aftermath of Harvey Doggy (and Kitty) Style

In the late evening of August 25th, hurricane harvey made landfall in Rockport, TX and began tearing a path of destruction which affected nearly half of the population of Texas. two weeks later, after Billions of dollars in damage, thousands left homeless, and millions left to clean up in the wake of the storm and flood waters, the recovery efforts continue.
as the nation offered their support to displaced families and pets alike, another issue came to light: the thousands of homeless animals wandering the streets of houston and surrounding counties.
i am lucky enough to call myself a veterinarian, and even luckier to work for a company that allowed me to leave my job in nashville and head to my hometown in texas to help, in whatever small way i could, the veterinary relief efforts.

My husband was ready and willing to help in our efforts, and proved to be very successful in establishing hand washing stations, lighting for late night trauma cases in the makeshift hospital in a mall parking lot, trouble-shooting and restarting the generators when they would go out, and serving as a vet assistant with no medical experience. (He was a good sport.)

It was humbling and overwhelming to see the extent and generosity of donations for relief efforts, especially those in Clarksville and Nashville, TN. When we made mention at our clinic of my plans to head down to Texas, the outpouring of support was both immediate and huge. Ranging from food, water, kennels, cleaning supplies, treats, leashes, bowls, monetary donations, and even the lending of a beautiful trailer to haul the donations down, Tennessee did not disappoint in their willingness to help in Houston!

View of the donations unloaded in houston!
it was an honor to work with some of the amazing people at Austin Pets Alive, Rescued Pets Movement, and houston barc, all of whom worked with an astonishing array of foster parents and other volunteers from all over the u.s. in order to transport animals in need out of the floods as well as to provide much needed veterinary care.

Days were spent with Rescued Pets Movement. Here, medical care for the countless animals in their foster system were cared for at no cost to the fosters, and the animals were sent to rescues in other areas where forever homes were found.

We were also able to help load the pets going to Chicago with Paws Chicago - a group that drove straight through in order to help empty the shelters by coordinating loving forever homes for the outgoing pets.

most nights were spent from 8pm to ~2am at the west drop point with austin pets alive. Animals were run through intake, making sure info about where the pet was found, pet's gender, approximate age, & owner info if available were written down, and a file started.
from there, pets were triaged by a veterinarian and given much needed medical care as well as vaccines, flea, tick, and heartworm prevention in order to minimize disease transmission. They were housed in their individual kennels, given food, water, walked by countless amazing volunteers, and placed in front of fans to keep them cool until transport.
The outpouring of support from all over our amazing country was a stark reminder of just how great our society is in spite of all of the negative press. I worked with a volunteer group from Tucson (trailer pictured below), a woman from Santa Barbara, a registered Vet Tech from Massachusetts, search and rescue men from Louisiana, North and south carolina, pet rescue organizations from ohio, illinois, colorado, and georgia, just to name a few. I worked alongside men and women of all ages, races, and creeds in order to achieve a common goal: to help our fellow human as well as our furry companions.
my hope trough all of this is that hurricane harvey serves to remind us of the greatness of our country and of the resilience of texas. I hope that the outpouring of love and support flows through and continues beyond the recovery from the storm and serves to open our hearts and homes to the many animals in need across our country. may it serve as a reminder to spay and neuter in order to decrease the homeless populations. Finally, may it serve to remind us how very much alike all creatures are- human and animal alike.

There are still numerous organizations working to help support the relief and recovery efforts, and will have continuing needs well beyond. Two that I would like to highlight are Austin Pets Alive! and Rescued Pets Movement:

Created By
Becky Hamm
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Credits:

All photos taken by myself or my husband

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