Animal rescue groups are working hard to provide shelter to hundreds of pets who have been separated from their owners in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Many people were able to take their pets with them as they evacuated their homes.
However, others were caught underprepared for the storm and the subsequent flooding, particularly in the Houston area.
“The people in Houston especially weren’t really prepared for this,” Austin Pets Alive Executive Director Dr. Ellen Jefferson told Fox on Monday. “I think it caught a lot of people unaware [sic], and they’re just trying to save their own lives.”
Many residents who decided to leave their pets at home, thinking that they would be able to return to their properties after the hurricane, have not been able to.
As a result, emergency service crews have had to rescue a lot animals, dropping them off at animal shelters, which have been doing their best to keep up with the demand.
Some lucky pets have been reunited with their owners.
Before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, animal shelters were already working overtime to free up space to prevent the animals from needing to be euthanized due to overcrowding.
Austin Pets Alive (APA), a shelter in Austin, Texas, helped relieve shelters in coastal areas by accepting hundreds of animals.
“Austin Pets Alive! has been helping shelters in the direct line of Hurricane Harvey. We’ve been working with these shelters to transport as many pets as possible to APA! and as of Saturday morning, we’ve transported over 235 animals to our shelter,” the group’s website says.
The group has a webpage with updates for community members to get involved in the ongoing pet rescue efforts.
A devastating 250,000 dogs and cats died following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, resulting in the decision to allow for pets to stay with their owners in designated emergency shelters.
Many people in New Orleans had chosen not to evacuate because no shelters would accept pets, which resulted in endangered people, and many more needed to be rescued by emergency services as a result.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas, on Friday evening, and has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. However, Texas is not out of the woods yet. According to the weather forecast, parts of Texas as well as Louisiana will continue to be drenched by heavy rains for the next few days.
In some areas, nearly 20 inches of rain is still expected.
More than 30 inches of rain have fallen in some areas since Friday. Over the weekend, approximately 2,000 people were rescued by emergency services.
On Monday morning, 185 critical rescue calls were still awaiting help. Emergency services said that their goal was to reach all these people by the end of the day.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long says they estimate at least 30,000 people will be displaced from their homes following the hurricane and devastating floods.
Harvey was the strongest hurricane to hit the United States in 13 years and the strongest felt in Texas since 1961’s Hurricane Carla.