To the rescue, wading through floodwaters in Texas
During Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, it felt like the Humane Society of the United States and other animal groups not only fought surging waters, rain and wind, but also some government agencies and key private agencies whose leaders just didn’t get it when it came to animal welfare.
In the early stages of that response, some first responders had instructions not to take animals to safety, despite the pleadings of their caregivers.
Human shelters — which filled up because of mandatory evacuation orders — excluded animals, causing some people to refuse to leave their homes, because they wouldn’t abandon their best friends.
The inattentiveness to the bond between animals and the people who care about them put everybody at risk, and it undermined and complicated the disaster response.
It also meant animal protection groups had to mount the largest-ever pet rescue operation to find pets trapped in homes, especially in New Orleans, which would be shuttered to its residents for weeks because of the levee break and massive flooding.
A dozen years later, we looked on the immense damage that Hurricane Harvey has wrought in Texas and Louisiana — dropping more than 14 trillion gallons of water over an area larger than the state of New Jersey. This time, though, it was evident there’s been a sea change in attitudes towards pets.
The government and human-focused charities get it now, recognizing that for disaster response to work, they must take into account the animals and the humananimal
Rescuers in Texas carry cats from floodwaters produced by Hurricane Harvey.