Three months after Hurricane Harvey slammed parts of Texas and Louisiana, the animal groups that Alley Cat Allies supported with emergency funds, and by providing hands-on assistance, haven’t slowed their lifesaving efforts.
Those six organizations helped animals affected by Harvey in various ways, and many took in rescued or surrendered animals who now need homes. Some shelters and rescues are using the upcoming holidays as an opportunity to hold adoption events and give these animals happy endings. Other groups are continuing to help community cats affected by record flooding.
In the weeks after Harvey battered Texas in late August, the CATNIP Foundation facilitated remarkable rescues. Remember Rudy, a cat who survived on a mattress floating in water for 11 days before he was rescued? The CATNIP Foundation, based in Louisiana, made multiple trips to Texas to rescue animals like Rudy, transport cats back to its facility, and carry out Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).
All in all, the group took in more than 200 cats displaced by the storms.
“It’s just been a whirlwind,” says CATNIP Foundation CEO Catherine Wilbert. “Because it was Harvey, and then we started taking in [Hurricane] Irma cats.”
Every time the group got just beyond capacity, it had to figure out how to support even more cats coming in, says Wilbert.
“I think the takeaway of the whole thing right now is: There’s a lot of animals that need homes,” she says.
On December 10, the CATNIP Foundation will host its Holiday Ho Ho Ho Down, an annual open house event that features tours and family activities, like hayrides with Santa. Wilbert hopes the event will help to showcase these animals.
In a like-minded effort, Friends for Life in Houston will hold a “mega adoption” event on December 9, with activities, adoption specials, and more, as part of its Home After Harvey campaign. Thanks to support from donors, adopters, and volunteers, the group is supporting four times the number of animals it usually does, including many kittens with ringworm whom other groups weren’t able to care for after the influx of Harvey animals.
“Streets are starting to get cleaned up; they’re picking up trash again. You can drive through much of the city and it looks normal,” Friends for Life Executive Director Salise Shuttlesworth says of Houston. But, she adds, the effects of the hurricane are still being felt by residents and animal welfare groups alike.
Looking Out for Community Cats
In coastal Baytown, Texas, Randa Faycal stepped out of her trailer after Harvey hit to feed the usual four community cats who gathered there—and found herself surrounded by 10 cats, then 15! Cats displaced from flooded areas migrated to her colony.
With the help of Alley Cat Allies and animal rescue A Life to Live, she was able to care for these additional cats. Now, nearly all the cats have undergone TNR, and Faycal has learned to trap cats herself. That’s a success story in a coastal community that was devastated by flooding, where thousands of people are still recovering, says Magan Gonzales, co-founder and program director of A Life to Live.
Immediately following Harvey, Alley Cat Allies deployed an expert, bilingual disaster response team to Baytown to help A Life to Live care for community cats and do TNR. From early September to late November, the group provided TNR services for 77 community cats—its average is eight per month—and socialized 15 feral kittens.
Also in September and October, A Life to Live transferred 85 animals out of the overflowing Baytown shelter to other organizations. The shelter is now operating at normal capacity, and A Life to Live continues to partner with the Baytown facility on Shelter-Neuter-Return (a TNR program that involves shelters) and pull animals for its foster program, says Gonzales.
Ongoing Support for Houston
Austin Pets Alive! is still running a temporary shelter in Houston with Houston Pets Alive! The group has rescued more than 5,000 animals from Houston and coastal areas.
“For Texans and Houston, it’s a long road to recovery,” says Mary Heerwald, marketing and communications director for Austin Pets Alive! “It’s a really heartbreaking situation, but when you have lost all your earthly belongings and you’re trying to get by, some people are finding it relatively impossible to provide adequate care for pets.”
Austin Pets Alive! is helping to make sure these pets get a second chance and will continue working with Houston shelters to make the city a more humane place.
Alley Cat Allies also gave emergency funds to the Humane Society of Louisiana, which transported more than 700 animals from Texas to shelters around the country. Our grant, which was used to repair a large transport vehicle, directly helped nearly 200 of those animals go to shelters in Ohio, Maryland, North Dakota, and New York. We also provided funds to Texas organization Wharton County Stray Pet Outreach Team (SPOT), which rescued and provided medical care for cats after historic flooding in the county.
Alley Cat Allies is grateful to its supporters, who enabled us to provide assistance to these groups and the animals of Texas.