SOUTH BEND, Ind. — For the most part, the 11 dogs who arrived Monday night at the Pet Refuge shelter look like the others who are already there waiting for new adoptive homes.

That is, until you see their “names” written on cards attached to their kennel doors.

“Tex.”

“Dallas.”

“Aggie.”

“Cotton.”

These dogs were homeless before Hurricane Harvey flooded the Houston area, where pet shelters are scrambling to make room for pets who have been separated from their people by the floods.

These Harvey dogs will be eligible for adoption in two weeks, after they have been examined by a veterinarian, said Pam Comer, Pet Refuge president.

“It’s a privilege to be able to do this,” Comer said. “We would hope if we were in this situation, they would do the same for us.”

Comer said the Humane Society of the United States called Pet Refuge and asked it to accept the dogs, and Pet Refuge staff drove to an airport in Waukegan, Ill. Monday night to pick them up. The Humane Society of Indianapolis also picked up 11 dogs.

“They are a wonderful mix of breeds from chihuahuas to Labradors, all showing much personality and good health, even after a plane ride yesterday afternoon,” said Steven Stolen, CEO of The Humane Society of Indianapolis.

Pet Refuge and The Humane Society of Indianapolis are two of about 26 shelters nationally that have agreed to take in more than 600 pets from Houston area shelters to make room for Harvey-separated animals, said Kim Alboum, director of the Humane Society of the United States’ Emergency Placement Partner Program. They are dogs and cats but mostly dogs thus far, she said.

“This number is just going to continue to grow,” Alboum said. “This is a long-term effort.”

Comer said the timing was right for Pet Refuge to accommodate the request because recent adoptions have freed up kennel space. Alboum said shelters around the country have told similar stories. If a silver lining has emerged from this tragedy, it’s been the realization that shelters have made real advances in reducing the pet population over the past decade, she said.

“They have the capacity to do it because they’ve been doing such good work in their communities with spay and neuter and finding creative new ways to adopt out pets,” Alboum said. “Something of this volume probably wasn’t possible 10 years ago. It’s exciting.”

The HSUS also is giving displaced pet owners pet food and crates for their pets to sleep in, and has teams on the ground in Houston that are partnering with municipalities to help reunite flood victims with their pets.

Animal shelters there are being careful not to send flood-separated pets out of the area. Animal rescuers learned lessons during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when animal shelters were full, forcing many abandoned animals to be taken to out-of-state shelters where reunions with owners were much more difficult.

“We’re being extremely cautious not to do that,” she said. “Pets are a significant part of our family. These poor people, some of them have lost everything and not to be able to find one of their family members would be devastating.”


Source: South Bend Tribune, http://bit.ly/2eMqsPg


Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by the South Bend Tribune