Helping Animals in the Wake of a Natural Disaster

By: Dr. Abby Huggins Mowinski, DVM

It can feel absolutely overwhelming to watch natural disasters unfold in other regions of the country and other parts of the world. So much help is needed on so many levels — it is impossible to know where to start. But the important thing is simply to START.

Even seemingly small acts, when done in unison, can make a huge difference.

For those out there wanting to help the animals in the midst of Harvey’s destruction, please consider the following suggestions:

(1) Make a financial donation to the local animal rescue and relief organizations. Austin Pets Alive!, Houston Humane Society, SPCA of Texas, City of San Antonio Animal Care Services and the Animal Defense League of Texas already have volunteers on the ground, among so many other charitable organizations.

(2) Foster or adopt a homeless animal. Overcrowding at shelters is an even greater issue in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The local shelters will soon become overwhelmed and animals in need will be transported to surrounding states that can accept them. By fostering or adopting a homeless pet in your area, you are freeing up room for the additional animals that will need to be housed and cared for.

(3) Donate supplies or your time. Kitty litter, trash bags, towels and blankets, crates, pet beds, laundry detergent, paper towels, toys, and comfort items are all greatly appreciated donations. Many shelters have wish lists on their websites or links to an Amazon wish list – so make sure to check with your local shelter before donating tangible items.

(4) Ensure the safety of your own pets. These disasters provide valuable reminders about the importance of microchipping your pets and keeping that chip updated with your latest contact information. Keeping vaccinations up-to-date, as well as heartworm preventative, will also optimize your pet’s health and safety. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitos – stagnant receding floodwaters will provide excellent breeding ground for that vector.

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
-John Wesley