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Hurricane-displaced pets from Houston headed our way

by Joshua D. Scroggin
September 12, 2017
A black shelter dog looks through the chain link in its kennel.
Local shelters are welcoming an influx of hurricane-displaced animals from the Houston area to adopt out to local pet owners on the Central Coast.

When disaster strikes, it isn’t just the people that suffer. The lives of animals are devastated right alongside their owners and caretakers.

Central Coast shelters are preparing for an influx of more than 140 hurricane-displaced animals from Houston this week, and there are plenty of ways you can help welcome the new arrivals.

Ninety dogs, 33 cats, 15 kittens and five puppies are scheduled to arrive direct from Texas on Thursday.

From there, they will be distributed between Santa Barbara County Animal Services, the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, Woods Humane Society in San Luis Obispo and the Santa Barbara Humane Society.

The animals were either in Houston shelters when Hurricane Harvey hit two weeks ago or were surrendered by their owners shortly after, Santa Barbara County Animal Services Outreach Coordinator Stacy Silva said.

Often times, people realize they can’t return home after a natural disaster or that they no longer have the means to care for pets. Because there was such an immediate need for new animals to be placed into Texas shelters after the storm, many animals are being relocated out of the Houston area to make room.

The ultimate goal is for the cats and dogs coming here to find new permanent homes with folks on the Central Coast.

But even if you don’t have the ability to bring a new pet into your home, there are still plenty of ways you can help.

Monetary donations are greatly appreciated to help alleviate the additional strain to the budgets of our local shelters. There are two separate GoFundMe campaigns currently running to help the cause, one specifically directed to Santa Barbara County Animal Services and another that will be split up between the county shelters and the Humane Societies.

The funding will contribute to any medical treatments the animals may need upon arrival. They will be quarantined for 10 days to determine any illnesses that may arise. Stacy said there are already seven confirmed cases of heartworm to be treated.

There’s an expected need for short-term foster homes, too, both for animals that require socialization for behavior or are recovering from illness.

“When dogs are scared in a shelter,” Stacy said, “they sometimes do much better in a home environment.”

Material donations are also welcome. Kongs and Kong stuffers like wet food and high-value treats would help keep dogs occupied in their kennels. So would other types of enrichment toys and feeding puzzles. For food, the shelters use Science Diet.

And if you are thinking about adopting a new pet, please visit one of the Santa Barbara County Shelters or a local Humane Society. Whether you adopt a new arrival from Houston or one of the local animals already sheltered on the Central Coast, you are helping the same cause by either directly helping a hurricane-displaced animal or freeing up space and resources for one.

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