The Peninsula SPCA in Newport News will be receiving about a half-dozen four-legged refugees on Thursday from Harvey’s destructive wrath.
The cats and dogs, rescued from shelters in Texas by Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, eventually will be made available for local adoption. Many shelters in Houston and other storm-ravaged parts of Texas are trying to make room for stray dogs and cats who potentially could be reunited with their families.
“We all heard stories about people who refused to evacuate their homes because it would have meant leaving their animals behind,” said Ellen Thacker, executive director of the Peninsula SPCA. “They put themselves in jeopardy because these pets were members of their families. For some folks, that’s all they have. By taking care of pets, we can help get some of these first responders out of harm’s way. That’s one of the reasons we think it’s so important to participate in this type of rescue program.”
In all, PETA is expected to transport about 60 dogs and cats from Houston to Hampton Roads, with at least eight shelters arranging to take in dogs and cats. In addition to the Peninsula SPCA, the Heritage Humane Society in Williamsburg is taking in two kittens and two dogs.
In a news release, PETA senior vice president Daphna Nachminovitch said, “Hurricane Harvey has left its mark on Texas and Louisiana, and Hampton Roads now has the opportunity to help some of the dogs and cats from overwhelmed animal shelters in some of the most devastated areas. PETA invites our neighbors to open their homes and hearts to dogs and cats who need and deserve lots of love, security and comfort.”
The dogs and cats arriving in Newport News and Williamsburg will undergo basic health examinations. They will be spayed or neutered if necessary, and Thacker said some animals may need a few days to acclimate after a long ride from Texas.
When the animals are ready, perhaps as soon as this weekend, they will be made available for adoption.
Some of the animals PETA brought in came from the Houston SPCA. Julie Kuenstle, that organization’s director of communications, said such outside assistance is “absolutely critical” to the task of rescuing animals from the storm and attempting to reunite them with families.
“No organization can work alone when you’re dealing with a catastrophic event of this magnitude,” she said. “It’s heartwarming to see all of the organizations assisting us by taking in adoptable animals and helping to find them forever homes.”
Kimberly Laska, executive director of Heritage Humane Society, said she was proud to see the “outstanding teamwork” exhibited by animal welfare groups across the country in response to Harvey.
“Every one of us wanted to do our part because we all know, you never know who will be next to be affected,” Laska said. “When we see this happen and you see the humans and the animals affected, you just want to step up and help out the best we can.”
To contact the shelters, call the Peninsula SPCA at 757-595-1399 or call Heritage Humane Society at 757-221-0150.
Holtzclaw can be reached by phone at 757-928-6479 or on Twitter @mikeholtzclaw.