COLLEGE STATION, TX -As Hurricane Ike sets its eye on the Texas Coast, thousands of coastal residents are going to be mandated to evacuate their homes. Fortunately for them, new mandates allow them to bring their pets.
In the aftermath of Katrina, it was discovered that many of those who suffered the greatest losses were those who stayed behind, unable to bring their animals with them in an evacuation. In recognition of the importance of the human-animal bond, evacuating agencies are no longer able to refuse someone bringing their pets with them.
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 vetmed.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.