This is Ellen. For the past month, she’s been back and forth to Houston working tirelessly to help save thousands of animals affected by Hurricane Harvey. Ellen (Dr. Jefferson as she’s known to many) is a veterinarian and executive director of Austin Pets Alive!, which has led animal rescue efforts on the ground and from Austin in Houston and other flooded areas.
As Ellen explains in this letter, APA staff and hundreds of volunteers coordinated a fast and furious preparation for and response to the hurricane, spearheading rescues of animals stranded in incapacitated shelters and strays and pets lost in flooded areas along the Texas coast. They helped organize holding facilities for these animals as well as pets surrendered by owners who couldn’t bring them to emergency shelters. They helped set up shelters in both Houston and Austin that could accept people and their animals at the same time. They asked for help, and the community responded in spades, with truckloads of donated pet supplies and thousands of volunteer hours. Since Harvey, APA has taken in more than 2,000 animals displaced or separated from their owners as a result of the storm and flooding, and they are working night and day to both reunite lost pets with owners and find new homes or No Kill shelters for those considered not to have an owner.
"One thing is clear,” notes Ellen, “There is a huge need for an immediate, ‘build the bicycle while you are riding it,’ lifesaving surge in disasters.”
"Working side by side through this disaster will have lasting effects that can only help animal welfare in the long run. I've never felt more respect for or from my fellow veterinarians and for and from the municipal sheltering agencies in Texas. It's amazing how a natural disaster can literally blow down the walls between people who haven't always seen eye to eye."