Posted by Mary
As a former television news reporter, I’ve seen a lot of things. Bad weather, dead bodies, horrible car accidents, political embezzlement and just about everything in between. But for some reason, nothing gets to me like the sight of a suffering animal. I admit, after 13 years in the news business you get a little jaded, but even back then I used to tell my editors I couldn’t cover an animal abuse story because I would get too emotionally involved. Now, even though I am no longer covering the news of the day things haven’t changed. When I heard about Hurricane Harvey on my Twitter feed, I started getting sad. With every hurricane comes loss of life, damage and stray animals wandering around hopelessly.
I was working as a reporter when Hurricane Katrina happened in New Orleans back in 2005. I remember interviewing dozens of Katrina survivors. In several cases, they told me how they had to leave their pets behind. Some couldn’t get back to their homes before they were evacuated, while others said they were forced to leave their pets because they weren’t allowed in the shelters or evacuation buses. It was a horrible situation that I just couldn’t imagine. I later learned many of the human victims of Katrina died not wanting to leave their animals.
I am so hoping the situation for animals will be better in Houston than New Orleans. As part of my full-time government communications job, I am often have to attend Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trainings. Last fall I attended crisis communications training for public information officers. The instructor who taught the course was one of the lead communicators during Hurricane Katrina. He told our class the most common question from survivors was about the welfare of their pets.
While Katrina was a horrible situation, it seems important lessons have been learned that are helping those in Houston. According to National Public Radio, some Houston shelters are now allowing pets to stay with their humans. It also seems emergency responders are more cognizant of the importance of people’s pets. But even with some of these improvements, it’s still a dire situation. One of my good friends here in Minnesota recently found out her cousin passed away during the hurricane trying to save her dog.
There are many ways you can help these hurricane animals. While many folks want to give the gift of time and volunteer their services, animal agencies say what they need most is money. This gives them the flexibility to buy what they need most. Another way you can help is to adopt an animal from your local animal shelter or rescue. Thousands of homeless animals that were in Houston shelters before the hurricane are now being moved to organizations across the country, to make room for the homeless animals that will be flooding shelters not damaged. Where I live here in Minnesota, hundreds of Texas dogs and cats are on their way to area rescues and humane societies. (Now would be an awesome time to get a new family friend!)
Of course, while Hurricane Harvey is on our minds, it’s important to remember there are animals suffering everywhere that need our help. Whether you help the hurricane animals or other animals in need… remember that any gift to an animal organization is a gift of compassion to those who can’t speak for themselves.
Looking to donate to Hurricane Harvey animals? There are so many agencies working on rescuing animals down south, but one organization I particularly like is the Best Friends Society. They have a wonderful mission of ending the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable pets and every penny of your donation will go straight to the animals.