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Homeless animals flown from Texas to Bay Area following Hurricane Harvey

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About 70 animals flown from Texas to the Bay Area on Sunday will be put up for adoption. (Courtesy SPCA)
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Some 70 animals are in need of new homes in the San Francisco Bay Area following their relocation from impacted Texas shelters mobilizing to make room for pets displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

The mix of cats and dogs arrived Sunday evening at San Francisco’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) at 201 Alabama St. and have since been divided among four shelters, where they are undergoing health exams prior to being put up for adoption later this week.

“They are all a little shell-shocked, but had really great dinners and are on the way to their new lives,” said Sherri Franklin, founder and executive director of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue.

Franklin’s group joined forces with the SPCA, the animal rescue nonprofit Mad Dog Rescue, and the Richmond-based Milo Foundation to spearhead the relief effort. The SPCA has taken in a mix of 30 cats and dogs, Muttville will care for some 10 older dogs and the rest of the animals have found temporary refuge with the Milo Foundation and Mad Dog Rescue.

The slew of animals included a large number of puppies and kittens — all animals were transferred out of Austin Pets Alive, an Austin, Texas-based animal shelter that “has stepped up to take dogs from overcrowded shelters that were being flooded,” said Franklin, who personally flew to Austin to pick up the animals on Sunday.

The animals flown to the Bay Area were already living at Austin Pets Alive before the hurricane struck, but animal advocates hope that their transfer will alleviate a growing need for animal care at shelters across the region that have hit capacity levels with an influx of pets stranded due to ongoing flooding in Texas.

“Priority [for Texas shelters] is connecting them back to their families,” said Franklin. “Each animal we took in had to be double screened to make sure they were available for adoption at the animal shelter prior to [the] storm.”

By Monday morning, some 2,000 stranded cats and dogs had been rescued and transported to Austin Pets Alive, which has opened a temporary emergency animal shelter in Houston to meet the growing need there, according to Mary Heerwald, a spokesperson for the group.

Heerwald estimates that the group’s main shelter houses about 230 pets at any given time — but in the wake of the hurricane evacuations, all three of its shelters are at capacity and roughly 800 animals are currently being held at the temporary shelter location.

“Its been instrumental to have organizations and shelters across the country offer to take some of these dogs and cats and find them adoptive homes,” she said.

On Sunday, the animals were shuttled into Oakland International Airport in a private jet, arriving “happy and healthy after a long trip from Texas,” said Elizabeth Evans, a spokesperson for the SPCA. Public donations allowed the rescue groups to bring critical supplies, such as medication and kennels, to the Austin shelter.

More animals will likely be relocated to the Bay Area as Texas shelters work to rescue and reunite pets displaced by the hurricane with their families.

“There will be a second wave of animals needing homes. Once people can get back in their homes, or especially if they can’t get back in their homes, they won’t be able to care for their animals,” said Franklin, adding that those interested in adopting the displaced pets are encouraged to contact the rescue groups.

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