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Anna Compton

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At the temporary Austin Pets Alive! shelter at 7711 Burnet Road, employees worked to ensure that rescued cats and dogs were adopted and placed into loving homes. Photos by Amanda Stronza, Mike Ryan and Diana M Lott.

Austin Pets Alive! mobilizes to save pets dislocated by Harvey

Hurricane Harvey left thousands of Texans without power for days, destroyed homes and took 77 lives. In the wake of the storm’s destructive power, many pet owners had no other choice but to surrender their pets to shelters because there was no longer a place for them to live. On one of Lindsey Picard’s first days working at the Austin Pets Alive! temporary shelter in Austin, a huge transport of more than 200 animals arrived at once.

“I can’t shake the image of these hundreds of animals, at first confused and scared, being so lovingly cared for—then tail-wagging and purring as soon as our volunteers were by their side,” said Picard, a marketing manager.

APA rescued more than 3,000 pets during Harvey’s reign over Texas. Although it is not a disaster relief organization, APA went beyond its normal mission by opening two temporary shelters in Austin and Katy, just west of Houston. Normally a marketing expert, Picard is one of the many APA employers who performed jobs they don’t normally do in order to serve homeless pets in need.

“I worked at our normal shelter locations in Austin, at our temporary Austin location,” Picard said, “and I even spent some hot days in the Katy Mills Mall parking lot.”

Picard has been working at APA for more than six months now but states that she’s “been a fan and supporter for many years,” and that both of her dogs are APA alums. Picard’s job during this relief effort has been to communicate with her community about how people can get involved and provide needed help. Picard said that APA has more animals in its care than ever before, and that the number is still growing.

“Animals were pulled from flood waters and needed immediate medical attention,” Picard said. “It’s never easy to see an animal who is scared and alone, especially not in situations like this, but knowing that they are safe and sound once they arrive at APA makes all of the tough moments worth it.”

APA has not been working alone on this effort. Local volunteers and volunteers who have traveled to Texas from all across the country have provided a surplus of support. Picard said that volunteers and staff worked around the clock—even living in parking lots and temporary shelters—to ensure all animals were safe and cared for.

“It truly gives me goosebumps, just thinking about all the amazing humans who are the reason all these amazing animals are safe and sound,” Picard said. “Really, the outpouring of support from our volunteers, staff and community was, and still is, absolutely awe-inspiring.”

APA workers did what they had to do to help save as many animal lives as possible—from bringing dogs to safety before the storm even hit, to staying on the ground in Houston for months after the storm passed.

“The amount of animals we have in foster homes right now has tripled,” Picard said. “We still have a team on the ground in Houston to continue relief efforts at our temporary shelter location. At this point it’s hard to put a number on how many animals are still needing help, but we are doing our best to help as many of them as possible.”

Picard said that Austin Pets Alive! still needs people to adopt, to foster and to donate. Their work is far from over, and any help given will be greatly appreciated.

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