Updates from Animal Rescue Central

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 General Storm Information:

  • If you have lost or found an animal that did not come from Galveston, please use our lost and found tool to post your report.
  • If you have lost an animal in Galveston, please use the above link to access the Disaster Response Pet Portal.
  • If you’d like to help the Houston SPCA continue its life-saving work, please click here.
  • Help us by providing much needed items from our Wish List.
  • Many thanks to friends from around the country who have come to lend a hand: Denver Dumb Friends League, Code 3 Associates, Humane Society of the Pike's Peak Region, Humane Society of Boulder Valley, Larimer Humane Society, SPCA of Texas, Humane Society of Missouri, SPCA of Los Angeles,  Louisiana SPCA, The Humane Society at Lollypop Farm, Atlanta Humane Society, Michigan Humane Society, San Diego Humane Society, Animal Humane Society, Humane Society of Broward County, and Nashville Humane Association.


Updates from the frontline:

The Houston SPCA has spent the last two weeks devoted to saving the animal victims of Hurricane Ike.  We evacuated animals from coastal shelters to safety; rescued, saved and shelter 1,562 storm victims; fed/sheltered in place another 484 animals; placed 424 animals into temporary foster care; celebrated over 100 miraculous reunions; and in cooperation with our affiliate Wildlife Rehab & Education fed and cared for more than 1,000 orphaned baby squirrels and other wild animals who also suffered from Ike's wrath.  The road to recovery may be long and filled with debris and other obstacles.  But, the Houston SPCA has been a beacon of hope and a safe haven since 1924 and with your support we will continue to be a shelter from the storm for those in need!  Here are some of our favorite reunion pictures and one of a baby squirrel with a broken leg that WR&E will nurse back to health!Blog_reunion_3Squirrel_broken_leg_for_blogFerret_reunion_for_blog_2

Thank you to those of you who have stepped up and helped us during this difficult time. Our work continues. Please consider making a donation to support the programs of the Houston SPCA and help
us give storm victims a second chance at life. 
Blog_reunion_1 Blog_reunion_2 Blog_reunion_4jpg 


September 21, 2008

The five little terrier-mix dogs had been left behind on Galveston Island by their owner.  Alone and frightened they watched as the storm surge began to rush into their home.  As the water continued its relentless rise, they jumped to the top of a table and that’s where Houston SPCA rescue teams found them trembling and whimpering in fear.  The high water mark was over their heads and our rescue teams knew in their hearts that these little dogs spent most of the night swimming for their lives.  But they had a strong will to live and thanks to the Houston SPCA, they also have a second chance at life.

Houston SPCA rescue teams are in a race against time to safe innocent storm victims like these who were left behind on the Island to fend for themselves.  Thousands of dogs, cats, horses, puppies and kittens, birds and other pets have found a safe haven at the Houston SPCA. 

On Saturday, we sheltered 233 animals from Galveston, took in another 149 at the temporary shelter on the Island and conducted 141 rescues. Overall, nearly 600 animals have arrived from our Island’s temporary shelter and our teams in the field have conducted over 600 rescues. In addition, hundreds of Houstonians responded to our “Operation Safe-a-Life” plea and have opened their hearts and homes to foster Galveston pets for 10 days.  This morning the line of foster families stretched out the door!

Our animal friends lost everything in the storm but hope.  And, thanks to our life-saving efforts we are bringing hope to those animals who so desperately need us. But now…the Houston SPCA needs you!  Please consider making a donation to support the Houston SPCA and help us give storm victims like this little Chihuahua a chance at life.

September 20, 2008
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, The Wildlife Rehab and Education Center is preparing to wash oiled wildlife that has been observed on the Texas Coast. Executive Director of the WR&E Center Sharon Schmalz has contacted the Texas General Land Office (TGLO) Oil Spill Prevention & Response Division to utilize their 40 foot oiled wildlife cleaning trailer. So far, the WR&E Center has received four impacted Brown Pelicans from Galveston and two more are in route. Two of the pelicans are soaked with oil while the other two have an unknown substance on their feathers. Another 20 of this endangered species have been spotted in Galveston, Seabrook and Kemah.

The WR&E Center has responders trained in ICS (incident command system) and HAZWOPER certified (ability to deal with hazardous substances) that are authorized by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to care for oil impacted wildlife. If anyone in the general public comes across oiled wildlife do not handle or wash the animal. Call the Houston SPCA Disaster hotline at 713.435.2990 to report the sighting immediately. It is against state and federal laws for the public to handle or wash wild animals.

All oiled wildlife that the WR&E Center receives will be cleaned in the TGLO wildlife trailer which has flash hot water heaters for proper washing. The animals will be set up in a triage, administered rehydrating fluids, once stable they will be washed then dried under heatlamps, encouraged to begin to self feed fish, exercised in flight cages and then finally released back into the wild.

September 19, 2008
There’s now hope for distraught owners of pets lost during Hurricane Ike.  Pet owners in Texas can now search an online, centralized database of pets lost during last week’s severe weather which left hundreds of thousands homeless and separated family members.  Under the direction of the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Pethealth Inc.  and Pets911 , a Disaster Response Pet Portal (DRPP) has been launched.

As animals are rescued and lost animal reports come in to the Emergency Hotline (713-435-2990) being staffed by HSPCA, information is entered into the PetPoint Animal Management system.  Every 15 minutes this data is then uploaded.

Owners who recognize a lost pet on the website can call the hotline and their information will be immediately attached to the animal at the shelter, expediting reunification.

“The loss of a beloved family pet only adds to the anguish of those who have already suffered so much,” said Mark Warren, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pethealth.  “The Disaster Response Pet Portal will help ease the suffering of those who have lost their pets and it will assist those who are trying to rescue them.”

The HSPCA is overseeing animal welfare initiatives in the area including an emergency shelter in Galveston, a community severely affected by the Hurricane.  “Our staff and volunteers are working around-the-clock to rescue pets and reunite them with their families,” said Patricia Mercer, President of the Houston SPCA.  “The online database portal created by Pethealth will make it easier for us ready to care for the thousands of pets which are being rescued in the aftermath and ensure they find their way home as soon as possible.”

“We must remember the animal victims of Ike,” said Corey Lambrecht, Managing Partner, Global Alerts LLC, parent company of Pets911.com, “and support the efforts of the Houston SPCA to come to their rescue and return them to their families.”

“The Disaster Response Pet Portal is about using the Internet to leverage the dedication, expertise and technology available to help in this crisis,” said Steve Zeidman, Chief Technology Officer at PetPoint.

September 18, 2008
ike kittenIn the wake of Hurricane Ike, many animals have been lost, abandoned, and injured on Galveston Island. The Houston SPCA is asking the community to help give these storm victims a second chance at life by participating in “Operation Save a Life.”

The Houston SPCA’s “Operation Save a Life” is asking every family who is able to foster a Galveston pet for ten days.  If after ten days, the displaced animal is not reclaimed by its original owner, the foster parent has the option to adopt the animal or return him/her to the shelter for placement.   

There are a few requirements to participate in “Operation Save A Life.”

        Current pets in a foster home must be fully vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

        Each home must keep foster pets in a completely separate room or area from current pets.

        Renters must have permission from their landlords and present a lease agreement.

        Foster parents must present a photo ID and provide current contact information.

        Each foster parent will also be required to sign a contract with the understanding that the animal belongs to the Houston SPCA during its foster care.

        Foster families will not be responsible for veterinary care during the ten-day foster period.

Families interested in fostering can go click here to download an application or come to the Houston SPCA beginning Friday, September 19th at 10 am.  The hope for all of these animals is that they will be reunited with their original owners or given a second chance at life in new a loving, permanent home.

The Houston SPCA is committed to the rescue and recovery efforts to save the thousands of animals left behind after the wrath of Hurricane Ike.  Every lost pet will be photographed and its picture placed on line. The Houston SPCA is located at 900 Portway Drive, and currently open 7 days a week from 8 am to 6 pm.

September 17, 2008
Teams from the Houston SPCA loaded tens of thousands of pounds of crates, food, litter, water, newspapers, cleaning and medical supplies, bowls, blankets and other supplies and headed for Galveston.  The closer they got to Galveston, the more tragic the devastation.  They knew they were faced with a tremendous task...creating a safe haven for those in need where there was no shelter from the storm.  The temporary animal shelter was to be located in an old Police Substation.  Advanced crews swept and bleached the floors and moved file cabinets.  Upon arrival our teams assessed the areas and began assembling crates.  A human chain started ferrying supplies from the truck to the emerging shelter under a blazing sun. Before the shelter was even complete or the location announced to the public, people and pets in need found us!  Kind people who had lost everything and experienced personal tragedies beyond belief were bringing lost and frightening pets to us.  In just a few hours earlier had been a dark, dusty abandoned building, a new shiny safe haven...a shelter from the stood whose doors are open to all in need.  And, in a race against time, our teams in the field are conducting their search and rescue missions.  Today we're bringing another 46,000 pounds of supplies to Galveston which will be used at the shelter and distribution to people and pets in need who are living on the Island.

September 15, 2008
The wrath of Hurricane Ike left a site of mass destruction at the Galveston County Animal Shelter in Texas City. the Houston SPCA's Disaster Response team lead by Chief Investigator , Charles Jantzen stepped in on Saturday afternoon to rescue 77 dogs, 65 cats, one rabbit, some parakeets and a pelican along with other wildlife that sheltered in place with staff when the hurricane hit. The high winds and pounding rain ripped holes in the ceilings, causing sheets of water to pout into the shelter leaving behind slick floors and soaked animals. The air conditioner went out due to the power outage in the city causing the animals to survive without sufficient ventilation for hours upon arrival they were moved into the facility where they were provided with food, water and shelter.

The animals were transported to the Houston SPCA in a 48 foot air conditioned trailer. Hours upon arrival they were moved into the facility where they were provided with food, water and shelter. Hours before being rescued by the Disaster Response Team, one cat had given birth to kittens. There are many litters of puppies and kittens in the group along with adult cats and dogs who need loving homes. Many of the animals will be up for adoption at the Houston SPCA, as they will have to take shelter in Houston until their home in Texas City is back to normal.

The Houston SPCA's Animal Response Disaster Hotline will be staffed from 10 am to 6 pm daily to field lost and found reports, rescue reports, and to offer animal related information. The number is 713-435-2990. Messages left after hours will be returned promptly the next morning.  

September 14, 2008:
The Wildlife Rehab & Education is preparing for an influx of wild animal victims of Hurricane Ike. Executive Director Sharon Schmalz said that Ike’s high winds and heavy rain blew baby squirrels from their nests, knocked roosting birds out of trees and literally slammed coastal birds like pelicans and seagulls to the ground.

She urges anyone finding an orphaned baby squirrel or bird to put him/ her in a box with a rag. Do not offer food or water. Residents finding injured or orphaned seabirds should gently toss a towel over the animal and carefully sweep them in a box. The most important thing at this point is to get the animal warm and dry. Please call the Houston SPCA Disaster Hotline for rescue information at 713-435-2990.

September 13, 3008
The Storm Riders were up early and we had our first meeting at 6:30 am. Everyone is fine and all the animals doing great! Overnight the wind howled and roared and the rain fell in sheets. We watched nearby billboards bow and flex and slowly peel away piece by piece. 

Water_4 Ultimately they surrendered to the fury of the storm and were sucked away into the night. Small tree limbs and leaves litter the ground. Water from the force of the storm came through the doors of the shelter and down through the ceiling in places leaving us a bit of mopping to do this morning.

Cat It's 10 am and all the cages clean and animals fed.  The kittens in the (pictured) are enjoying a bit of personal attention. Our barns and outbuildings are structurally secure and our horses and other farm animals enjoying breakfast.

Our Disaster Hotline is ready to go and as soon as it's safe for us to hit the streets, we'll launch our rescue and recovery efforts.


September 12, 2008 p.m:
storm ridersWe call ourselves the "Storm Riders."  There are 16 of us who have prepared for the safety of our families and moved our pets, sleeping bags, and suitcases into our offices.  We have volunteered to ride out the storm at the Houston SPCA.  We'll be caring for the hundreds of dogs, cats, horses, chickens, goats and other animals at our shelter during the storm.  Immediately following the storm and as soon as safety permits, we will begin our rescue and recovery efforts.

The Houston SPCA has also activated the Disaster Animal Response Hotline.  Volunteer operators will be accepting calls daily from 10 am to 6 pm about lost and found pets, rescue reports and offering other animal-related information.  The TOLL FREE number is 877-661-0161.

In addition, animal rescuers from around the country including the Denver Dumb Friends League, SPCALA, Humane Society of Missouri, and Code 3 Associates, Inc. and SAWA are sending at our request experience animal rescue technicians and animal care staff to assist us in our life-saving efforts!

September 12, 2008 a.m:
ike call centerAs of Noon Central time the Houston SPCA has activated its Animal Response Hotline. Operators will be accepting lost and found animal reports, rescue reports and offering other animal related information.

The hotline will be staffed today from Noon to 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the following days. Call notes are available so those who call in after hours may leave a message which will be returned first thing in the morning. The toll free number is 877-661-0161 or 713-861-0161.


September 11, 2008 p.m:
We are now under a Hurricane Warning.  Coastal and inland counties are under mandatory evacuations.  People and their pets are fleeing Ike.  Tides are expected to begin rising Friday morningIke Cats and are anticipated to peak between 12 and 20 feet.  Peak wind gusts between 100 and 115 mph will be possible across our entire area and hurricane force winds may last up to 12 hours causing widespread destruction.  Today was another busy day of preparations at the Houston SPCA.  We received the 55 animals from Brazoria County on Wednesday.  Today, 100 animals arrived from Galveston County.  We sent 50 dogs, 50 cats and 12 rabbits to our animal shelter coalition partners in Dallas and another 120 to partners in San Antonio.  Thanks to the SPCA of Texas, the Humane Society/SPCA of Bexar County and Animal Defense League of Texas for providing the transportation in air-conditioned comfort!  Extra food and supplies for people and animals has been ordered and everyone is as ready as possible for the arrival of Ike.  Here are some pictures, including one of the littlest storm victims!


Monitor this website for daily “Updates from Animal Rescue Central!”

If you’d like to help the Houston SPCA continue its life-saving work, please click here.
Or help us by providing much needed items from our Wish List.


September 11, 2008 a.m:
Hurricane Ike is bearing down on the Texas Coast and in response to the mandatory evacuation of Brazoria County, the Houston SPCA came to the rescue of 55 animals in need of shelter.  Chief Cruelty Investigator Charles Jantzen and his team of Randy Farmer and Debbie Michielson transported all the animals from the Brazoria County SPCA to our shelter in Houston.  The new arrivals were warmly greeted by our animal care team.  Many of the 45 dogs and 10 cats and kittens will quickly be placed for adoption!  We are grateful for the assistance of our adoption partners around the state of Texas who have agreed to accept more than 100 of our adorable adoptables on Thursday morning and place them into their adoption programs thus freeing up space at our shelter for animal refugees and storm victims.

Houston SPCA Staff welcomes incoming animals to the shelter.


For a list of Animal Sheltering options across the state. Please click here. We will keep this list as updated as possible with new information.

September 10, 2008 p.m:
Brazos Valley Ready to Accept Refugee Animals
As Hurricane Ike sets its eye on the Texas Coast, thousands of coastal residents are going to be mandated to evacuate their homes. 

The Brazos County Emergency Management Team, in cooperation with the Brazos Animal Shelter and the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, has been preparing to receive animals arriving with evacuees from Hurricane Ike. A unique part of the sheltering plan in Brazos County has been the response plan for those evacuating with horses and domestic livestock. Although it is not currently mandated that evacuees must be allowed to leave with livestock, to many horse and livestock owners, the economic impact of losing a prize horse or show animal would be devastating. For this reason, the Brazos County Animal Issues Committee has been working since Hurricane Rita to prepare not only for small companion animals, but also for larger ones as well.
After receiving shelter assignments from the Reception Center at Veteran's Park, animal owners will be directed to the appropriate animal shelter for their pets. Large animals (domestic livestock, including horses) and small animals will be housed in two separate locations.

The Brazos Animal Shelter, with support from the Brazos Valley Veterinary Medical Association and the Brazos Valley Small Animal Response Team, will manage the small animal shelter. Veterinarians and students from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences will manage the large animal shelter.

Both the Small Animal Hospital and the Large Animal Hospital located at the College of Veterinary Medicine will be available only for emergency care of those animals arriving in Brazos County sick and/or injured, and those that may become sick and/or injured while in a shelter. These facilities will not be available as shelter sites.

At this time, animals will be sheltered on a first come, first served basis. In the large animal shelter, there is a limited capacity of 200 horses, 80 head of cattle, and 80 small ruminants and pigs.

In addition, the College of Veterinary Medicine has established an Emergency Response website that can be a valuable resource to those planning for evacuation at www.cvm.tamu.edu. On the site are links to maps on how to reach the Reception Center at Veteran's Park, policies and procedures for pet owners sheltering at one of the two designated sites, and preparation lists for evacuating with pets.

For additional information, please visit www.cvm.tamu.edu, or Brazos County Emergency Management - www.bcdem.org (979) 393-9913 or (979) 393-9914.

September 10, 2008 a.m:
Officials order mandatory evacuation for some Brazoria Co. residents and said all residents living in the coastal 77541 ZIP code should evacuate beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday.  Officials in Galveston are expected to call for the voluntary evacuation of the island’s low-lying West End Wednesday afternoon.

And, once again the Houston SPCA is preparing for a major hurricane strike along the Texas coast.  Yesterday we secured our entire campus.  We currently have over 900 animals at the shelter and provisions have been made to transfer our adoptables to shelter partners in Texas to free up space for animal victims of the storm.  The Brazoria County SPCA is evacuating their shelter today and we are making preparations to transport and shelter 75 of their animals.  All vehicles are fueled and lined up waiting for action.  The Disaster Bus, our mobile veterinary hospital and triage unit, is also ready to go and will be heading out to Brazoria County this morning.  There are over 3,000 crates neatly stacked in our warehouse if we need to establish a MASH (Mobile Animal Shelter).  And, our Cruelty Investigations Team has trained for water rescues.  Our boats are stacked and clearly identified as "animal rescuers."  Whether Ike strikes near Houston or anywhere along the Texas Gulf Coast, the Houston SPCA is ready to save lives!

Monitor this website for daily “Updates from Animal Rescue Central!”

If you’d like to help the Houston SPCA continue its life-saving work, please click here.


Important information to always keep handy:

    Plan ahead and include your pet in your family's preparations.  If you are going to evacuate, take your
    pet(s) with you. 

 Some important steps to ensure your pets safety.

  • Identification
    Make sure your pet wears a collar and I.D. tag with up-to-date information.  You may also want to consider microchipping your pet for permanent identification.
  • Vaccinations
    All pets should be current on their shots. Keep a copy of the vaccination records sealed in a plastic bag.
  • Sleeping Quarters
    Help your animals avoid shattering glass and falling objects. Don't place your pet's bed below windows or shelving.
  • A home away from home
    Every animal in your house should have a crate - a molded plastic carrying case. Familiarize your pet with the crate before the disaster strikes so that they will be comfortable when it is necessary.
  • Check your yard
    Make sure all fencing is secure and all holes and potential escape routes are blocked.
  • Plan ahead
    Identify animal shelters, local boarding facilities, veterinarians, motels and friends or relatives that may temporarily house your pet after a disaster.

    If you evacuate, take your pet!


Use this checklist as a guide for building your own disaster preparedness kit for your pet.

  • Molded plastic pet carrier
  • Copy of your pet's rabies and vaccination records sealed in a plastic bag
  • Pet first aid book and kit
  • Two-week supply of pet food
  • Bottled water
  • One-month supply of your pet's regular medications
  • Non-spill food and water bowls
  • Cat litter
  • Cat litter pan
  • Leash
  • Plastic bags (for pet waste disposal)
  • Sheets (one to cover each pet carrier)
  • Blankets
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Newspaper
  • Disinfectants
  • Paper Towels
  • Comb/Brush

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