Animal Welfare In Times Of Disaster

More often than not, mankind is too preoccupied thinking about how to save their own lives and properties during calamities than their pet animals. It may be different if an animal is grown for a profit like cattle, for example, where their owners would often evacuate them first rather than lose their source of livelihood. It is often an afterthought for some owners to think about their pet’s welfare during disasters and it is not uncommon to see dead or lost animals after strong hurricanes or tornadoes because their owners are likely as dazed as them too.

In light of the recent hurricane that hit the United States of America, Hurricane Harvey, some parts of the nation have been unfortunate enough again to be at the mercy of the elements. Texas has been flooded and many homes are deep in water for days now. Relief and rescue are slow and many are already complaining. While humans suffer, animals suffer too. And it is even worse for them as they can’t speak and let everyone know how badly they are feeling. Those pets that have been unfortunate enough to not be rescued and evacuated in time have likely succumbed to the elements and thus forever lost.

Texas has never seen a storm like Hurricane Harvey before. It’s buried Houston and its environs, and part of Louisiana, under water. More rain is coming in the next few days — as much as 50 inches are expected to fall on some parts of the area.

This is a near-impossible number to get your mind around, and photos and videos from the affected areas are utterly heartbreaking.

Even while dealing with this natural disaster, folks throughout the state and beyond are doing their best to make sure the animals affected by this hurricane aren’t left to fend for themselves. It’s heroic, selfless work and they can’t do it alone.


Not all animal shelters can accommodate all these displaced animals. These shelters already struggle in caring for the animals in their care during good weather, what more when the weather is bad and resources are scarce. Remember that the people caring for these animals are often living in the same vicinity as well, meaning they are also affected by the calamity and would likely be securing their own family first than others. It’s no wonder why many animals die because they are often the least priority in the household unless they are considered as a member of the family as well.

Over the past several days, Tropical Storm Harvey has unleashed breathtaking amounts of rain in the Houston area, paralyzing the region and transforming streets into fast-moving rivers. Thousands of people have been displaced, with many still waiting to be rescued.

When people are plucked to safety, they often take with them the clothes on their backs and the few possessions they can carry. For many people, that includes taking their pets, hoisting them onto boats and into high-water vehicles before riding together to dry ground.

But that is not always the case. Many pets have been left behind, abandoned in homes, chained to trees and left for strangers and animal shelters to round up and rescue. And some animals such as cattle were simply too big to move before Harvey arrived.


It is such a shame that pet owners won’t have second thoughts in leaving their pets behind their flooded homes as they race to save themselves from a disaster like Hurricane Harvey. But you can’t also blame them since they often fear for their lives and will likely only bring with them their important personal belongings in case they need to be evacuated on short notice. While rescuers may still save some of these abandoned animals, some arrive too late and the poor pets have already died.

There are now animal activists making a noise to lobby for better animal protection laws that will protect pet animals from situations like this in the future. It is still a long way for it to happen and pet lovers and advocates can only hope and pray that homeowners who decide to raise a pet will be responsible enough to look after these pets even in times of crisis and not just leave them behind when the going gets tough.