With Hurricane Harvey in our rear view mirror and Hurricane Irma on the horizon, it seems appropriate to talk about pets and disasters.
I’ve been asked several times what the Humane Society for Greater Savannah is doing for pets impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Our approach is two-fold:
Adoptable pets: Many of the shelters in and around Houston were already full when Harvey hit. Through our partnerships with other animal welfare organizations, we have taken in some adoptable cats to make space at Houston area shelters for pets whose owners needed assistance as they were evacuating. As our kennels become available when pets are adopted, we will be able to help more pets from Hurricane Harvey.
Staff deployments: Over the course of the next few months (or perhaps longer), our staff will travel to the Houston area to care for pets in the temporary shelters set up by the ASPCA to provide expert care to the thousands of animals in need. They will be in Houston for a week or so at a time, their housing and travel paid for by the ASPCA but their salaries paid for by HSGS. Staff learn new skills on these deployments and build meaningful relationships across the animal welfare profession that are beneficial to HSGS. And their skills are incredibly impactful on the people and pets they serve.
All the while we are still focused on serving pets and people here in the greater Savannah community. For instance, we have a lot of “smallies” — hamster, mice and gerbils from a closed rescue across the state line in South Carolina. We are also currently keeping our eyes on an animal cruelty case in Polk County, Ga., involving 100-plus dogs.
On the horizon, though, is Hurricane Irma.
The Humane Society for Greater Savannah has renewed its agreement with Screven County and will be able to evacuate animals in our care to Springfield with a dedicated group of HSGS staff. We are in the early stages of mobilizing for our evacuation — checking on the status of the buildings we use, reserving hotels for staff and taking inventory of our supplies. We encourage all of you to do the same for your pets so that if you need to evacuate, you are ready.
As many of us remember from Hurricane Matthew, planning and preparation will not eliminate the stress of evacuating but they will decrease it significantly.
And be safe!
Michelle Thevenin is the executive director of Humane Society for Greater Savannah, 7215 Sallie Mood Drive. She can be reached by phone at Shelter Operations at 912-354-9515, at Pet Fix Savannah at 912-354-6265, or by email at email@example.com.