Helping Harvey Animals
On August 27, 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. The Category 4 storm devastated Houston and many coastal communities. Both people and companion animals were injured and displaced by the storm. Local shelters - many which were already at capacity before the storm hit - were now faced with hundreds of lost animals, as well as pets that were given up by their families after the storms. These shelters needed support, and the animals needed comfort and care. We knew we had to act.
The Kentucky Humane Society (KHS) was asked by Houston SPCA and Animal Rescue Corps to help by taking in animals that were in shelters before the storm arrived. This would allow them to make room for incoming animals who needed their help. We agreed to take in 7 horses from Houston SPCA, as well as 10 animals from Animal Rescue Corps (ARC). The dogs and cats had spent time in ARC's temporary emergency shelter in Tennessee to make room for incoming animals in Texas.
We were also asked to deploy a team to Houston. To support the exhausted shelter workers in the disaster area, four KHS employees spent 10 grueling days in mid-September caring for animals at an emergency shelter, transporting animals to veterinary appointments, delivering supplies and food to organizations, and helping reunite lost pets with their owners. It was emotionally and physically draining work, but we are honored we were able to help the animals and people in Houston.
Just two weeks after Harvey reached Texas, Florida braced for Hurricane Irma. Again, we were asked to help. We agreed to evacuate shelter pets ahead of the storm.
On Sept. 8, two KHS employees drove to Columbus, Ohio, to meet a plane with shelter animals evacuated from West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale. With so many planes trying to leave Florida at the same time, the 4 p.m. flight was delayed until 10:30 p.m. Our staff patiently waiting for the animals' arrival. Finally the plane arrived, and KHS took 29 dogs and cats, arriving back in Louisville around 3 a.m. Our tired staff spent the early morning hours ensuring that each animal had a comfortable place to rest.
On Sept. 8, two other staff members drove down to Jacksonville, Fla. They left around 1 p.m. on Saturday and arrived at Jacksonville Animal Care & Protection Services at 3 a.m. The Jacksonville staff were on emergency alert and were spending 24 hours a day at the shelter to care for the animals, and to get as many out of the shelter before Irma hit. They spent two hours loading up four dozen animals - mostly large dogs and adult cats. At 5 a.m., our team made the long trip back to Louisville. By this time, all highways heading north were full of hundreds of thousands of families fleeing the storm's path. Our team chose to head west and reroute toward Mobile, Ala. This added another 250 miles to their trip, but it allowed them and the animals to avoid being caught in traffic jams. Finally around 7:30 p.m. they arrived at our main facility, the Sam Swope Pet Treatment & Lifesaving Center on Steedly Drive. A team of dedicated KHS employees and volunteers were there to walk each dog and find each dog and cat a comfortable place to stay.
A few days later, the ASPCA Field Response Team asked for KHS' help. They had taken in hundreds of animals evacuated from Miami shelters and brought them to an emergency shelter in South Carolina. Two KHS volunteers made the drive and brought back 39 dogs and cats. On Sept. 17, the ASPCA transport team brought over six dozen more animals to our doors. While stretched to capacity, we couldn't turn them down. Our team got to working readying each animal for adoption.
The Atlanta Humane Society also asked for our help; they had taken animals from Harvey and Irma impacted communities and had set up a temporary shelter in a warehouse. Two KHS staff members drove down and brought back almost 50 dogs and cats on Sept. 20.
On Sept. 21, the ASPCA transport team delivered more dogs to KHS. They were closing their temporary emergency shelter in South Carolina, and asked us for our help in finding homes for the last dogs under their care.
Preparing Each Animal for Adoption
Our team has been working non-stop preparing each Irma- and Harvey-impacted animal for adoption, as well as the other animals coming through our doors. Each receives a medical examination and is spayed or neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped. Some of the animals have special needs, and they require more time before they are ready for adoption. Each day, approximately 6-15 hurricane refugee animals are cleared for adoption, and they are brought to one of our 10 adoption sites, our East Campus at 1000 Lyndon Lane or 9 Feeders Supply stores. Our adoptions staff then care for each of the animals, get to know them, and help them find loving, permanent homes. Everyone at KHS has taken on additional responsibilities so we can help these displaced pets. We are grateful for their cheerful willingness to take on each new challenge.
Louisville Community Helps by Adopting
With so many animals in care, we needed compassionate people to choose to adopt. With support from Bissell Pet Foundation, KHS waived adoption fees for any animals coming from hurricane-impacted areas. The response has been overwhelming! We are so happy to see so many evacuated pets are finding loving, permanent homes. We are thrilled to be part of such a compassionate community!
Interested in helping but can't adopt? Please make a donation to help our animals! Your gift will help us provide nutritious food, a comfortable place to stay and medical care to hurricane-evacuated pets, as well as all the animals under our care, until we can find them their forever homes. Donate online at www.kyhumane.org/donate.
We are grateful for PEDIGREE Foundation, Banfield Foundation and Bissell Pet Foundation for their support of our rescue efforts. Their support is helping pay for the cost of transporting these animals, medical care and daily care, as well as adoption fees.
Banfield Foundation has awarded us a grant to help prepare 48 dogs and cats for adoption. We are so thankful for their support!
Bissell Pet Foundation has generously offered to pay for the adoption fees of dogs and cats impacted by the storms. This has helped KHS get more pets into homes faster.
A grant from the PEDIGREE Foundation will help us care for over two dozen of hurricane-impacted dogs, so we can prepare them for adoption.