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Disaster FAQ

What shelters and rescues need to know about the Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey, as well as the wildfires in Oregon and Montana.

From Web Exclusives

Last updated September 26, 2017 11:12am EST


Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Harvey

Montana Wildfires

Oregon Wildfires

General Information

Where can owners find their pets if they were separated during evacuation or rescue efforts?

First and foremost, contact the animal control agency in the area you last saw your pet. Several websites also have information, and are listed below:

I want to foster a displaced pet. Where can I go to sign up?

Thank you so much for offering. Please go to for more information on fostering. If you are able to help with cattle and equine, please contact the Texas Animal Health Commission.

We also encourage you to reach out to our Emergency Placement Partners near you to see if fosters are needed, and to stay tuned to our social media channels should future ways to help be needed.

The following shelters have taken in adoptable animals from Texas, Louisiana and Florida:

  • San Antonio ACS
  • Houston Humane Society
  • St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center (NJ)
  • Seattle Humane
  • Oklahoma Humane Society
  • Tulsa SPCA
  • Humane Society of Tulsa
  • Humane Society of Central Oregon
  • Homeward Trails (VA)
  • Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation (VA)
  • Humane Rescue Alliance (DC)
  • Tri County Animal Shelter (MD)
  • Anti-Cruelty Society (IL)
  • McKamey Animal Center (TN)
  • Nashville Humane Association (TN)
  • Humane Educational Society (TN)
  • HAWS of Waukesha (WI)
  • Northwoods Humane Society (WI)
  • Animal Rescue League of Iowa
  • Wilson County DART (TN)

My shelter can take animals, how can we help?

If you are located in Texas or Florida, we encourage you to reach out to area shelters to let them know you can help. If you are interested in becoming an Emergency Placement Partner with The HSUS in the future, please visit We are currently coordinating placement of animals who were up for adoption prior to the hurricanes hitting, so those agencies could make room for owned animals who were evacuating. Our number one priority is keeping pets with their owners and returning them.

I heard that a particular city or area needs help. Can you help?

In order for an out-of-state agency to assist in a federal disaster area, there has to be an official request from the appropriate agency or emergency official. If a group or agency is in need of help, we ask that they contact their local emergency officials, who—if assistance is needed—will get the request to us. These protocols are in place to ensure there is not chaos created by outside groups coming in unrequested, and to ensure the assistance is sent to where it is needed most.

I can drive to an area impacted by one of the hurricanes, how can I help?

Beyond trained responders who were contacted, it is imperative that no one go to the area on their own or self-deploy. The HSUS won't be able to use volunteers who haven't gone through official training. If people who self-deploy come, and get stranded, emergency response attention must then add them to the long list of rescues, and divert attention away from the existing priority rescue work. It is simply too dangerous, and also may result in lost/stray animals not going through the official systems that can ensure they are reunited with owners.

If you are not a trained volunteer but would like to become one, you can learn more about the requirements and fill out an application.

What percentage of donations to the Disaster Relief Fund go toward Disaster Relief?

Donations made to our DRF are going to that fund to be used for these and future disasters. This includes paying for: the care of animals; the cost of deploying resources to a location (such as staff, transport, etc.); increasing the infrastructure and capacity of our disaster response efforts through fundraising, education and awareness raising; the support of shelters and rescues taking animals from us; transporting animals from affected areas; and in some cases, long term support of pets in the community going forward, such as our project with Emancipet in Texas.

Specific percentages are not currently available, as we are still both receiving funds and spending them for our efforts. Our priority is always to use donations in the most effective and efficient way possible so that we are always ready to help animals in times of disaster.

Hurricane Maria

What is The HSUS doing to help specifically in Puerto Rico following the hurricanes?

The need in Puerto Rico is so great that HSUS is combining efforts with our affiliate, Humane Society International to help as many animals as possible. We are continuing to check in with all of our shelter partners and clinics that we work with regularly, and are ready to provide physical and personnel support as needed in conjunction with local and federal authorities. Upon arrival, we will carry out an assessment to ensure we are meeting the most critical needs first.

Humane Society of Broward County,, Wings of Rescue, St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center and The HSUS are working together and will also be flying animals who were up for adoption at severely impacted shelters off the island to safety at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in New Jersey. There they will receive care and medical attention before moving on to shelters and rescues across the country.

Where, exactly, in Puerto Rico are you helping?

We have come to form strong relationships with shelters and rescues on the island through our ongoing Humane State program, and plan to assist in multiple areas. We also have a team waiting to get clearance to go to the Island of Vieques, where we have worked with residents to care for the wild horses on the island as part of our Humane State program.

What is The HSUS doing to help in the Caribbean following the hurricanes?

The HSUS’s global affiliate, Humane Society International is on the ground on Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, caring for shelter animals, and with the help of H/3 Foundation, HSI has done two transports of shelter animals from Tortola to the U.S. We will continue provide updates on our work in the coming days.

Where is The HSUS helping in the Caribbean?

Right now, Humane Society International is providing rescue and relief efforts for animals in the British Virgin Islands. As you can imagine, the need in the Caribbean is widespread, and other organizations such as IFAW and World Animal Protection have also stepped up, helping in other impacted areas such as St. Thomas and St. Martin.

What kind of animals are you helping in the Caribbean?

Currently our transport efforts will focus on dogs and cats, but the HSI team on the ground knows to make every effort to rescue any animal they come across who needs it, whether cat, dog, horse, cow or wildlife.

Hurricane Irma

Who can I call for information and assistance in Florida?

If you see a person or animal in distress, or you are in a life-threatening situation, call 9-1-1. Other questions and request for information can be directed to the emergency manager for your county.

What do I need to take when evacuating with my pet?

If you are evacuating or relocating with your pet, see our disaster preparedness kit list to make sure you have everything you need to keep them healthy and safe.

Where can I take my horses if I'm trying to evacuate?

We encourage checking out the following resources:

The HSUS does not specifically endorse any of the above, and we encourage horse owners to look into whichever facility they choose to board animals with.


What about the South Florida Wildlife Center?

Based in Fort Lauderdale, our affiliate South Florida Wildlife Center is the highest volume wildlife hospital, trauma center and rehab center in the country, and spent the days leading up to Irma preparing for the storm. All animals in the center who were not ready to be released were relocated by Friday. Equipment and supplies have been transported offsite to a local veterinary clinic, or secured onsite above ground level, and the facility is boarded up and protected as best as possible from the storm.

You can find the latest information on the South Florida Wildlife Center’s Facebook page.

What about the British Virgin Islands?

Our international affiliate, Humane Society International, will be deploying there to assist in evacuating animals to shelters in the U.S. We have developed a Facebook group that offers updates on our response and a list for adding pet names to the evacuation list, Hurricane Irma Animals BVI.

What about St. Thomas and St. Martin?

We're coordinating with international groups to divide up the areas impacted and respond accordingly. Our focus will be initially in BVI but we are collaborating with other groups to get animal supplies to where they are needed most in the Caribbean.

Hurricane Harvey

What is The HSUS doing to help during and after Hurricane Harvey?

When Hurricane Harvey hit, The HSUS had teams on the ground ready to help. In the following days, those teams helped with assessment and/or rescue efforts in Rockport, the City of Beaumont, League City, San Antonio and Dickinson, and worked with agencies such as the Houston Humane Society, the SPCA of Texas, Emancipet, Animal Investigations & Response, and Beaumont Animal Care.

We also enlisted the help of our Emergency Placement Partners, Wings of Rescue and to assist with the transport and placement of animals who were available for adoption prior to the storm to make room in local shelters for evacuee’s pets. We coordinated transports after the storm to continue to increase capacity so that people have a longer period of time to be reunited with their pets, which is our number one priority.

We also carried out an aerial assessment of stranded cattle in Southeast Texas via helicopter. We provided geographic coordinates of distressed cattle observed during our aerial survey to the Texas Air National Guard, the agency conducting the hay drops via a Chinook helicopter, to to feed the cattle until the water receded.

But we know this isn’t a one and done effort, and thanks to generous funding from the Alex & Elisabeth Lewyt Charitable Trust, Emancipet – a Houston-based nonprofit veterinary clinic --and The HSUS are offering free services to owned animals affected by Hurricane Harvey through December 8th.

We'll post updates about our disaster relief efforts regularly on The HSUS Texas State Facebook Page and HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle will continue to blog about the our response efforts at A Humane Nation.

I want to donate supplies for local animal shelters. What should I send?

The best thing for out-of-state folks to do is donate money and supplies to impacted shelters and those that are taking in animals. Please check with those organizations before sending supplies to make sure what you want to send is actually needed and helpful; several impacted shelters have lists of their top needs on their websites. Below are some of the online wish lists impacted shelters in the area have posted:


Did The HSUS move displaced pets out of Corpus Christi to another shelter?

More than 40 animals were moved from Corpus Christi to Houston to make room for the animals coming into the shelter. This included owner surrenders, young puppies already owned by the City of Corpus Christie and strays brought in after the storm who had been held for ten days. Those stray animals will finish out their extended stray hold (ending on September 18th) at the Houston Humane Society, as the Corpus Christi Animal Shelter ran out of space. Our top priority is to reunite pets with their families, so these animals will not go up for adoption prior to the end of their hold.

How does The HSUS team know what houses to go to rescue animals?

We work with local agencies, such as Beaumont Animal Care, who receive the requests to rescue animals through mechanisms in place such as hotlines, 2-1-1 and law enforcement. We also of course attempt to rescue any animal in need that we come across. If we see an animal inside a home, we coordinate with local agencies and law enforcement to get permission to enter the home and rescue the animals.

How is The HSUS reuniting owners with their animals?

We are working with local agencies to answer direct pleas for assistance from pet owners and ensuring pet owners are contacted after rescue. Local agencies are scanning for microchips, and we are also making certain that space is available at local facilities to take in lost and displaced pets and hold them long enough for owners to be able to search for their missing loved ones. Our priority is reuniting people with their pets.

Are animals who are rescued being euthanized?

The Humane Society of the United States field teams are rescuing animals and bringing them to the proper location so that they can be cared for. We are not euthanizing any animals that we are rescuing from the field. Our teams are working with agencies and organizations on the ground to get the animals the care that they need with the hope that they will be reunited with their owners. We would never rescue an animal from the field only to euthanize them unless it were deemed medically necessary. In that case, euthanasia would be performed by a licensed veterinarian. In our Texas deployment so far, we have been fortunate that such a situation has not occurred, and we hope that continues.

Are you helping wildlife?

Staff from our South Florida Wildlife Center were deployed to assist in Houston with wildlife rescue efforts, and we have ample responders ready to assist should additional support be needed. Our teams on the ground know to rescue any animal they come across who needs it, whether cat, dog, horse, cow or possum.

What about horses and livestock?

Thank you for caring about all animals. We want to ensure that equine and livestock are also receiving the care they need, and have reached out to the agencies we are working with to ensure they know our capacity to help. We identified thousands of stranded cattle in east Texas by conducting an aerial survey, plotting their locations, and working with partners, including GreaterGood/Rescue Bank and Equine Rescue of Aiken, on hay drops to the animals so they can survive until the waters recede. We have also offered our assistance to the Texas Animal Health Commission, as TAHC is coordinating relief efforts for impacted equine and cattle.

Who should ranchers and farmers contact if they need help in Texas?

If owners of cattle and equine need assistance, they should contact AgriLife (the Texas A&M Extension Office) at 979-845-7800.

Montana Wildfires

What is The HSUS doing to help with the Montana wildfires?

The Montana state director has been in contact with the shelters and rescues in the areas of the fires. At this time there has been no requests for assistance. We will continue to keep in contact with them to monitor any needs. HSUS has provided pet food and supplies for the Lodgepole fire victims in Eastern Montana.

Oregon Wildfires

What is The HSUS doing to help with the Oregon wildfires?

Our staff have been in touch with shelters in the areas impacted by the wildfires including Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS), where 400 animals, mostly livestock, are being held after evacuations. Currently our assistance is not required, but we will continue to monitor the situation and be in touch with our partners should their needs change. MCAS has also responded to the offers of help from outside of the state, and we encourage you to check out the latest information on their website.

About the Author

Animal Sheltering is for everyone who cares about the animals in their community—from shelter directors and animal care and control officers to kennel staff, volunteers, and private individuals working as activists, breed rescuers, wildlife rehabbers, veterinarians and more.