IKE Update 09/15: Sheltering Team Reports from Austin

This is a report is from IFAW’s Gail A’Brunzo, who heads another sheltering team in the Texas state capital of Austin.

Slugger_1 Here in Austin we’ve been working round the clock in a local high school that’s become a shelter for scores of animals evacuated from the hurricane zone. We’re working 12-hour shifts to provide help and security to the many dogs, cats and other animals here. This system is functioning well but shelter workers are extremely tired.

The Hendrickson High School shelter is actually one of five now operating in the Austin area. Because many of the animals’ owners were also evacuated from coastal areas hit by Ike, they are able to come and care for their pets: feeding, cleaning, walking and playing with them to overcome stress and better deal with their losses. The shelters in Austin have cared for about 200 dogs, 60 cats and 55 other animals (birds, guinea pigs, pocket pets, turtles). And as some owners and their animals head for home, the Texas State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is gradually consolidating shelters.

However, shelters housing evacuees and animals from the coastal city of Galveston will have to stay open longer because of the extensive damage caused by high winds and flooding there.  Galveston evacuees tell harrowing stories about rushing to leave their homes as the huge storm bore down; one family described how their trailer was under 15 feet of water as they escaped in their car.

In the shelter, animals and human caregivers share the same space, the former in cages and the latter occasionally taking rests on wooden pallets placed on the ground.  One caregiver suddenly awoke from a catnap to what sounded like the snarls of a vicious dog.  It turned out this was just snoring from a French bulldog named Slugger, lying not far away.

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