All for the Love of those Animals Impacted by Harvey
Together, we're saving lives.
As a national non-profit, the Petco Foundation is always there to support in times of need. When the small organizations in Baton Rouge were devastated by the 2016 flood, we were there to support their needs, including funding their rebuilding efforts.
So before Harvey made landfall, the Foundation team proactively reached out to our animal welfare partners to provide supplies in preparation for what was to come. From large deliveries to coordinated holding areas, to providing product directly from Petco stores to local organizations on the ground, we were there to meet immediate needs in affected communities. As our team monitored our partners and Harvey’s initial landfall, and reports of what was to come, we knew its devastation would be massive and significant financial support for recovery and rebuilding would be required.
"...we knew its devastation would be massive and significant financial support for recovery and rebuilding would be required."
Our Petco employees and our Petco customers also wanted to help – so we empowered them designating all donations, made online or in Petco stores, through September 10th to support organizations in Texas and Louisiana following Hurricane Harvey, committing at least $2.3M. Distribution of needed funds began immediately, resulting in the deployment of funds and/or supplies to more than 50 organizations throughout Texas and Louisiana. The larger organizations had the infrastructure in place for the extraordinary rescue efforts so we deployed immediate, supportive funding. Then once entry to Houston was possible, we hit the road to visit some of the smaller organizations in some of the hardest hit communities to see how we could help.
Bayou Animal Services:
Our first stop was Bayou Animal Services in Dickinson, TX. We were in contact with them throughout the storm when we learned of their efforts to rescue animals, one after the other, to bring them to safety. With all the surrounding organizations closed down, the team at Bayou animal services worked days with no sleep and little food all to save animal lives. We knew this was a team that needed and deserved our support.
To get to their facility we drove down a road that was underwater just days before, with piles of debris lining the streets. When we arrived, we discovered an incredible team dedicated to saving lives, and a community by their side helping to make it happen. Their inadequate shelter was not designed to handle the volume of rescued animals so crates were set up in a public works storage building next to the large equipment. We met with a local councilman, whose own family members had lost everything, and he broke down when we said we were there to help. Bayou Animal Services will require substantial support to build a facility to meet today’s needs and those of the future.
Next on our list was the SPCA of Brazoria County. We had to monitor reports about the Brazos river rising as the area was still under possible evacuation orders. Once we could get there safely, we discovered the organization not only needed significant financial support but they also had immediate operational needs. We returned the next day with additional support and made arrangements for transport of pre-flood adoptable animals to other organizations to reduce the number of animals in care and open room for additional animals being rescued. Our thanks to San Antonio Pets Alive, Animal Defense League of San Antonio and Louie’s Legacy in Ohio for their immediate transport support.
The challenges for the SPCA of Brazoria are only beginning. This organization operates in a facility not designed for the more than 4,000 animals they help each year, but they are a team doing everything possible to save lives.
By the time, we met with Rescued Pets Movement (RPM) things had settled and they were preparing for one of their largest transports of animals – ten vans – to Colorado filled with animals that had been in foster care prior to the flood. Moving these animals now would open these foster homes to provide space for more animals impacted by the flood. The energy and enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers of RPM could be felt the minute we walked through the door. So many people, who themselves were impacted by Harvey, were coming together to continue to save Houston’s animals. RPM is Houston’s top transport partner and a key component of Houston’s improved animal save rate.
Fort Bend Animal Control:
Our last stop was brief as this organization was still in the process of rescuing animals from the flood waters. After learning about a litter of 8 — 4-week-old puppies too young for one of the many out of state transports, we did the only thing we could – we went to get them and bring them back to San Antonio. Susanne Kogut, Petco Foundation Executive Director, is now fostering them.
Response to disasters like Harvey and Irma require the support of many national nonprofit organizations working together with the pet companies and retailers and all individual supporters to meet the needs of the impacted communities. We are all in this together to support saving lives in times of disaster and every day thereafter.
So in addition to investing in community efforts, the Petco Foundation team supported two major national technology platforms to assist recovery efforts. Finding Rover is a facial recognition technology whose mission is to reunite lost pets with their families. At the request of the Petco Foundation, Finding Rover worked tirelessly to make substantial improvements designed specifically to address post-Harvey recovery needs and we began efforts to get the word out about this resource. Then we supported the development by Adopt-a-Pet.com of FosterAHurricanePet.org, a peer-to-peer online platform that empowers people who need help caring for their pets to find fellow local citizens who can provide temporary foster care for pets. These types of innovative solutions have the potential to transform disaster response and even help throughout the year.
If rescue efforts during Hurricane Harvey illustrate one thing very loud and clear – people love and deeply care about their animals. Person after person walking through waist high waters had animals on their shoulders. Houston required all evacuation shelters to accept pets. It was amazing to see how much things have changed.
So from here on out, our focus will be on embracing and inspiring this compassionate, animal-loving community and saving the lives of all animals in times of disaster and every single day in every community throughout the country.