As Hurricane Harvey was about to hit landfall in Texas, RedRover was on high alert. The category 5 hurricane was predicted to be the strongest to hit the United States since Hurricane Katrina.
We received the call from the SPCA of Texas requesting help from RedRover Responders to assist with the influx of evacuee animals they were expecting in their temporary shelter in Dallas. The shelter was located in an abandoned parking structure close to the Dallas mega shelter, so evacuees could visit their animals daily.
At first, the shelter housed only a few animals, but many more were on their way as rescues and transportation issues continued. The RedRover Responders volunteers went straight to work setting up kennel “pods” to house dogs, assembling crates and supplies and creating an overflow cat sanctuary/kennel specially designed for frightened or anxious felines.
Each day more and more animals arrived. As the volunteers tended to people’s beloved pets, I observed their amazing compassion toward each and every animal. They worked long, strenuous hours doing physically demanding tasks, but not once did they complain.
Even after long days of work, there was such joy in witnessing evacuees visit their pets at the shelter and seeing the relief they felt knowing their pets were being well cared for during their stay. We all delighted in seeing the animals’ excitement when the owners came to visit, their tails wagging furiously, followed by kisses and hugs. We heard story after story of folks losing everything and barely escaping with their lives (and their pets). But when they came to visit, that sense of loss seemed to fade, if only for a short while, as they reconnected with their furry loved ones. So many families told us they simply couldn’t leave without their pets because “they’re part of the family.”
In total, RedRover Responders helped care for 123 dogs, 24 cats and five birds during the weeklong deployment. The experience was one I’ll always cherish — from seeing the dedication of our RedRover Responders volunteers to the hospitality and graciousness of the SPCA of Texas and the overwhelming appreciation of the evacuees. In a time of turmoil, loss and uncertainty, I’m so grateful that RedRover could provide safety and comfort to displaced animals and their people — and help preserve their bonds when they needed it most.
To see photos from our latest deployments, visit us on Facebook: Facebook.com/RedRoverOrg
Resources for Tropical Storm Barry evacuees
Flood disaster tips
Making connections with RedRover Responders
RedRover Relief, RedRover Responders
Shelter the Whole Family: Keeping pets and families together