Despite efforts by pets owners and humane societies, many animals were left to fend for themselves as Hurricane Harvey struck Texas over the weekend.
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The Humane Society of the United States urged residents to take their pets while escaping the nasty weather, as the organization also sent out its animal rescue team to help evacuate pets from shelters in the affected areas.
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“We are standing by to help as the need arises, armed with animal food, crates, carriers, and other supplies, along with emergency equipment and transport vehicles to evacuate and rescue animals,” the humane society said in a press release Friday.
Several other organizations in surrounding cities also pitched in to help the furry creatures.
But over the weekend, numerous pets were left stranded as the hurricane hit. Photos emerged on social media of animals trekking flooded roads as thousands of Texas residents fled their homes.
Many shelters for people do not allow animals.
One Texas police department issued a stern warning on Facebook, after witnessing some dogs left chained outside homes. It explained that the Roman Forest Police Department’s chief had witnessed a chained dog drown during a past flooding.
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“The dog barked and barked as the water kept rising until the water got high enough and the barks stopped.”
The police department added that it’s against the law in Texas to chain up dogs during extreme weather.
In a press release ahead of the hurricane, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also issued a warning to animal owners not to chain them outside.
The animal advocacy organization urged pet owners to create an exit plan that includes their pets, and transport them using safe carriers, harnesses or leashes. It added that microchipping animals can be especially useful during rough weather.
Household animals weren’t the only ones grappling with the aftermath of the storm. The Houston Zoo was closed to visitors, as an emergency crew was called in to care for its 6,000 animals. In a Facebook post Sunday, the zoo said all its creatures were safe and sound.
Farm animals and livestock were also part of the rescue efforts, with animals groups evacuating some to drier areas. But photos emerged of some stranded on a flooded farm in wake of the downpour.
While hurricanes are deadly and destructive for humans, they are also fatal for animals. Reuters reports about 250,000 animals died or were displaced by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
Following that hurricane, legislation was passed that requires authorities to include pets in existing federal guidelines for disaster planning.
It’s unclear how many animals have been affected by Harvey at this point, but shelters and veterinary clinics are now gearing up to help those that are displaced or injured.
— With files from Reuters
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