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In the first wave of many more to come, Seattle Humane took in 21 pets Wednesday from animal rescue groups in Texas following Hurricane Harvey.
Seattle Humane has offered to take 200 cats and 100 dogs from areas affected by flooding from the disaster. On Wednesday afternoon, 35 dogs arrived at Boeing Field. Seattle Humane took 21 animals to their Bellevue shelter, where they will be placed for adoption; PAWS took in the rest of the dogs.
One of the things that is happening right now is Houston area shelters are offloading their displaced animals to shelters out of the area, clearing up space so they can rescue more pets in the weeks ahead. This first round of pets were housed in the San Antonio area.
“The idea is to clear out the shelters in San Antonio and Dallas so that folks in Texas can safely shelter their animals there and get back to them after the catastrophe,” said Dan Daul, Washington State Director of the Humane Society of the United States.
To become a foster pet family, click here to email Seattle Humane
Help the victims of Harvey: Donate to Northwest Response
“It’s a really dynamic situation, obviously things are changing hour-by-hour so we continue to stay in touch with these organizations to determine the best way that we can help,” Pasado’s Safe Haven Executive Director Laura Henderson said.
It's been two weeks since Seattle Humane opened the doors at its expanded shelter and they will now test will see how far they can stretch capacity.
Loewe admitted they didn’t expect to fill up so quickly.
“We talked with our team and said how can we best help?" he said. "And we said we can take up to 300 pets."
Loewe said they started by reaching out to volunteers.
“We've already asked our current foster families, which we've got over 600 of, 'can you take one more?'" he said.
Foster Parents like Megen Opsahl say they are making room in their hearts and their homes for Harvey pets.
“I wouldn't be surprised if I get animal or two to take home. My husband doesn't know that yet I'm already making plans,” Opsahl said.
She's been fostering animals for years and admitted it's not always easy to say goodbye, but she knows the animals coming from Texas need help.
“You fall in love. I've sat in the parking lot crying more times than I can count, but it's worth it,” she said.
Seattle Humane says the relationships don't have to be temporary. Sometimes it's a “foster failure” when those pets become part of the family and stay for good. All the animals that arrive from Texas will be checked at their clinic and evaluated before they go into a home.
Those who can't take a pet can always donate.
Seattle Humane will host an emergency training for anyone who has been considering becoming a pet foster parent, they hope people in the northwest might realize this could be their way to help some of the most helpless victims of Harvey.
Different from Katrina
Pasado’s Safe Haven in Sultan is one of the groups standing by to assist. Pasado’s sent dozens of volunteers down to the Gulf Coast in 2005 in the days and weeks after Hurricane Katrina. They are willing and able to do the same thing right now, but they are waiting to get a better understanding of the need.
“We are standing by and ready. We have reached out to dozens of organizations both large and small in the Houston area to try and understand what the need is right now in terms of assistance,” Henderson said. “It’s hard for us to stand by right now, but we also want to be mindful of what is the best way to help. In these first hours and days of a crisis like this, sometimes the best thing to do is wait to get the best information and then activate.”
Henderson said she has noticed one big change since the days after Hurricane Katrina.
“The thing that was different during Hurricane Katrina is that, during Katrina, families weren’t able to bring their animals with them as they were rescued from their homes, or evacuated from their homes, and as you’re seeing from footage coming from Hurricane Harvey and the Houston area, families are able to bring their pets with them,” Henderson said. “That was a difficult aspect during Katrina is that family members were forced to make this heart wrenching decision to evacuate without a family member, a beloved pet. And in this case families weren’t asked to make that choice, so that’s a good thing.”
KING 5's Travis Pittman contributed to this report.