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Pet evacuees


By Raquel


One of the more touching aspects of this whole hurricane ordeal (after the human angle, of course) are what happens to the pets when they’re left behind when their owners evacuate. I can’t imagine anyone leaving their pet on purpose, and many people explain that as they were leaving the dog got loose or the cat couldn’t be found; in some cases the amount of pets – 34 birds for example – make it impossible for the owners to take all of them.
Some misguided people do think that pets can fend for themselves. But there are also people who won’t leave without their pets. Such was the case of a woman who was caught by the rising surge (the surge began hours before it even started to rain!) she had thought there was time to leave in the early morning of Friday, but by then the roads on Bolivar Peninsula were impassable. So she called 311 and was air-lifted out, as well as her dog, a cute (and happy!) golden retriever named Sugar. Rescuers said she had refused to be rescued unless Sugar was rescued as well. It was quite a sight to see on TV the sight of Sugar being lifted out of the helicopter first, and then her owner.

The authorities were more humane this time and did allow evacuees who went by bus to take their pets. I also saw many people as they drove up from the coast with their pets in the back seat of their cars, often it was a dog (or two) and cats though there were quite a number of birds as well.

The amazing thing is that so many of the pets left on the island (Galveston) survived – the 34 birds made it, as did their fellow ferrets and two guinea pigs – as they were rescued by the ASPCA and were actually reunited with their owners. There was also the case of a dog that came back to its owner’s driveway and sat down to wait, even though the house was completely washed away. I think it was a collie. A neighbor found him and took him to the pick up point and he was bused to Houston, along with 200 other animals.

The ASPCA has also taken in wildlife, especially baby squirrels shaken off the trees by the wind and abandoned by their mothers (or maybe the mother squirrels were killed, who knows!) as well as some reptiles. Unfortunately some wildlife simply didn’t make it, like the pelican with the broken wing that died on the way to Houston. The hurricane winds were so strong that the sea birds simply couldn’t fly in it.

Right now, Houstonians can foster a rescued animal, for 10 days, and see if their owner comes forth and claims it. After 10 days they can either adopt the pet or return it to the ASPCA. There have been quite a few reunited pets and owners, happily. The idea is to open space at the ASPCA for more animals and also to let the storm-weary and stressed pets recover in a loving home.
I think it’s the cutest idea ever. I firmly believe that how we treat animals mirrors how we treat our fellow human beings. At the university we have a food drive going both for people and for pets. If I had more space and spent more time at home, I’d definitely foster a scared and stressed furry friend.

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Thank you for writing this blog.
Wonderful to hear of the rescues and survivals amongst so much chaos.

25 Sep, 2008


So glad so many Made it ,i myself could never leave any of my Many pets behind2fend 4 them selfs :( if i couldnt take them all id stay &wait4them!

25 Sep, 2008


Jacque ~ You are so right.

Some years ago when I owned a different house, there was a heating emergency and danger of fire and explosion.

I carried my pets ~ budgie in his cage, and two dogs ~ to my car, parked further away, before I even realised that I might be in danger while doing so!

25 Sep, 2008


I would be same as you lot, i could never leave my pets,to me pets are part of my family, infact i always say they need us more than my children need me,hope that dont sound horrible, i do love my family very much.

25 Sep, 2008


This reminds me of a story I heard when I worked with elderly people. A lady once told me she lived in Swansea during the war. The town suffered several nights of servere bombing they call the ' blitz '.

On the worst night this lady decided to go to her sister's house a few miles away , out of the town. Someone persuaded her to leave her cat behind but after she'd gone half way to her sister's house she decided to go back for the cat. She said she would not be able to rest if she left him behind.

She said it was a good job she went back for him because the house suffered a direct blow by a bomb and was completely demolished. The cat would surely have been killed.

25 Sep, 2008


Thank you all for your comments. I also would never be able to leave a pet behind. When we moved to the States we had to leave our dog behind, he was a mix between German Shepherd and Spanish Mastiff, and he was adorable and the most intelligent dog I've ever known. But leaving him behind was too traumatic (even though we left him with a family that loved him and took good care of him), for me to risk having a pet unless I know for sure I can take them with me everywhere and that would include airplanes! =)

Odd I dreamt with Azabache (that was his name, it is another word for 'black' in Spanish, because he was all black when he was a puppy) last night, and in the dream my mother was upset because she couldn't find him!

27 Sep, 2008


Once when we lived in the far north there was an electric power failure (our house was heated electrically) and it was minus 20 degrees outdoors and our heat was off for six hours... it was very cold by the time the heat was back on and no fireplace or alternative heaters or generators. Two children, two adults and a dog and a cat...all in the same small room, bundled up as best we could and wearing our outdoor clothes and boots for warmth. For the kids sake we tried to make it an adventure...but I never want to experience that again.. Today ...if we were informed we had to evacuate I would hide... I have a gecko, three birds, a rabbit and a dog to think about..I couldn't leave them.

2 Oct, 2008


Goodness! I can't even imagine minus 20 degrees...I thought houses that far north always had fireplaces? I imagine they must have been working feverishly to get the power back on...I agree with you, Lori, if I had a pet I just couldn't leave it. Or it would come with me, or I would stay. Sigh.

4 Oct, 2008


We can hope we are never faced with a situation like that one. We have been lulled into complacency here in Canada where hydro-electric power was plentiful and until recently, cheap. The hydro-electric power that heated our home came from a number of miles south of us from a hydro-dam project on one of the large rivers on the Arctic watershed... the construction of the dams changed many things, but the miles of wire that the power was transmitted over remained at the mercy of the severe climate...The hydro linemen earned their bonuses...believe me!

4 Oct, 2008


I believe you! I'd love to visit Canada but only in summer - I can't imagine handling that much cold very well...(though the Ice Hotel in Quebec sounds fascinating! or is it Montreal? Mmm). After this whole Ike ordeal, I'm all out for solar power...imagine cell phones were basically the only way to communicate and they had to be CHARGED and the biggest problem we had was NOT having electricity! Why don't cell phones have solar powered strips so they can be re-charged easily??! Luckily a Walgreens more or less coles by had power and I walked there every day and sat for an hour while my cell phone did a ton of other people...Good of Walgreens to let us use their electric outlets (I had never realized before this that stores have electric outlets spread out all throughout the building...) Go Walgreens! It was a lifesaver.

5 Oct, 2008


In many parts of the world alternative energy is just a no brainer! An example is the place where I was living...miles and miles of muskeg and swamp...empty but for the constant wind whistling through the stunted vegetation...I told many people in my time up there that if they wanted a growth industry they should go into wind generation of electricity... I have had a calculator with a solar storage cell for years...Why couldn't they do that for a cell phone? even if for emergency backup only... perhaps it would increase the size of the phone? it doesn't require much juice to run a calculator but it probably takes much more to power the cell phone... my cell phone battery produces a lot of heat! I confess a love/hate thing with cell phones, but I can imagine that they are easy to love when they become your only means of communication in a dangerous situation.

5 Oct, 2008


Oh I hate cell phones - except in emergencies! I hate it when people are glued to them and now with the ear pieces, they sound ridiculous as they walk and talk seemingly to the air...(when this first came out I wondered at first if they were schizophrenic until I realized that they were talking on the phone! I just couldn't see the ear piece! lol ) I always think that Houston, having so much sun and wind should produce and use AE...but the oil barons have the city convinced it's a sin to not consume oil...which we're now paying there's an oilman, T. Boone Pickens, that wants to invest in wind power...we'll see how far he gets! And if he really does it...won't believe it till I see it!

9 Oct, 2008


You have to give Mr. Pickens some credit though! He sees the writing on the wall ...imagine what the world would be like with no OPEC and no automobile pollution? It would be a much safer world... but knowing mankind we'd find something else to fight about!! There are people who are complaining about living near the "wind farms" as they are called...because of certain frequency vibrations from the turbines! That was why I suggested it in the far north...there are animals to hear the noise, yes, but people can't complain. One of my clearest memories of the the SILENCE. it's rings in your ears...

9 Oct, 2008


Goodness and all the noise pollution we're exposed to on a daily basis?! Can't imagine a wind farm would be worse...but people will complain...well, yes he does see the writing on the wall..and like a good businessman wants to get into the next big thing! Oh Ok, I do give him credit for trying...especially in Houston. =)

12 Oct, 2008

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