Best Friend Reports from Texas

First Report from Texas September 23, 2005 : 4:59 PM ET
Sept 22, San Antonio Paul Berry, Best Friends Director of Operations, arrived in San Antonio on

Thursday evening. Called in this report Friday afternoon:
I'm at the McCreless Mall, which has become the main staging area in San Antonio for people coming out of Houston and other coastal areas.

By 10 AM this morning, the few shelters that were allowing family pets were completely full. Local groups -- the Bexar County Humane Society & SPCA and the Animal Defense League of San Antonio -- are working with local officials to open a warehouse to provide sufficient space for evacuees' pets. Until that warehouse is opened, people with pets are giving their cell phone numbers to volunteers, hoping to be contacted if and when new space is made available.

The family in the photo above were so frustrated by having no place to go with their pets, they were thinking of crossing the border into Mexico for a few days, but worried they couldn't get their pets back in to the US after the storm without a health certificate for them.

By this afternoon, it's apparent that state and local authorities were really not prepared for the numbers of either people or animals. The shelters are at capacity. One main shelter is an old WalMart store that's been opened up for use. But contrary to what anyone may have said or heard, this shelter is turning away animals.

Plus there are hundreds of people in the parking lot still waiting to be admitted.
Communications are a mess, too.

Right now, I'm going back over to the WalMart store/shelter to pick up a small dog who was thrown from a truck (part of animals not being admitted) and sustained a head injury. The team at Best Friends HQ (in Utah) called many vets without success, but have now found one who can treat the dog if I can get her over there.

The humane groups are still trying to locate warehouse space for an emergency animal shelter, and PETsMART Charities are offering kennels, bowls, whatever equipment to bring over there.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: If you live in the region, you can offer your home for a day or two to a family with a pet. This would take the pressure off the shelters, both human and animal.

Petfinder.com has started a phone line where you can call in to offer your home short-term or to apply stay in one. Either way, call 1-800-485-5152.


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