Updated: September 6, 2017
From our friends at the Houston SPCA:
Thank you to all of our great friends from around the country. The current social media storm may have dampened some spirits but, in reality, has only strengthened our resolve and focus on our mission which is saving lives and reuniting people with their pets. We are #HoustonStrong.
Water rescues continue today with three teams out on the water. We continue our work in Beaumont/Jefferson County and provided nearly 7,000 pounds of supplies to the ASPCA who has been deployed by Hardin County. Now for the really exciting news: We have launched Operation Reunite with the Texas Veterinary Association, Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation, Finding Rover, Petco Foundation and Adopt-a-Pet.com. This triad of innovative and extraordinary programs is designed to help reunite storm victims with their families through facial recognition technology, provide 45 days of foster care through partnerships with veterinary hospitals and initiate peer-to-peer fostering for animals until people can rebuild their lives. Here’s how it will work.
OPERATION REUNITE: HURRICANE HARVEY
The Houston SPCA is collaborating with the Texas Veterinary Medical Association and the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation to reunite lost pets with their owners. Animals will arrive at the Houston SPCA to be examined, vaccinated, scanned for microchips and dewormed. This information will be sent to the TVMA who has compiled a comprehensive list of veterinary clinics willing to provide foster care for 45 days. The pictures of these animals will be automatically uploaded into a disaster portal at FindingRover.com (more on that below). The veterinary clinic will manage the reunions. If an animal is not reunited with his/her owner after 45 days, he/she will be returned to the jurisdiction from where they were rescued, if that jurisdiction so chooses. If not returned to the original jurisdiction, the veterinary clinic can rehome the animal.
FINDINGROVER.COM: HURRICANE HARVEY PORTAL
Finding Rover, Petco Foundation and the Houston SPCA are teaming up to provide an innovative tool using facial recognition technology that will help victims of Hurricane Harvey reunite with their lost animals as Harvey continues to devastate this community. All shelters in the affected areas should go to FindingRover.com to approve access to their lost pet databases. This is the first time in history that photos of “found” animals arriving at shelters will automatically be loaded into a database which will use facial recognition to continually search for a match.
Over 1,000,000 people and their pets have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Adopt-a-Pet.com and the Houston SPCA are partnering together using online technology to help match owned companion animals needing short or long-term fostering with appropriate foster homes in Texas or Louisiana that will give them the loving care they need while their owners rebuild their lives.
We continue to distribute supplies to animal shelters, rescue organizations and emergency food distribution centers. If you know of a shelter or organization in need, please have them call 281-730-7814. We are standing by to assist!
Thank you to all those animal welfare organizations, foundations and corporations who have been so incredibly supportive, kind and generous.
Original Post: September 5, 2017
The MVMA would like to share important information with you about Hurricane Harvey disaster response. The key organizations and agencies responsible for that response in Texas have expressed gratitude for the outpouring of offers to help, and would like the veterinary community to know the following:
1. Don’t self-deploy!
While the good intentions are appreciated, a systematic response is essential for effective, efficient progress of response and recovery efforts. Self-deploying volunteers can actually complicate and add to the work of local emergency management officials. Please do not enter a disaster-stricken area unless you are part of an organized response team with authorized access.
2. Future volunteer work is possible
The agencies tasked with response and recovery will identify needs for volunteers, and those volunteers will be coordinated through the incident management system. If you are interested in volunteering time to aid recovery efforts you should register now with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (www.nvoad.org) and then await word on how and where your efforts can help. The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has applications available for Temporary Emergency Licenses for out-of-state veterinarians who expect to deploy in Texas. To facilitate supporting future incidents, veterinarians may want to consider joining and training with a veterinary medical emergency response team, such as a state veterinary medical reserve corps or local Medical Reserve Corps programs (https://mrc.hhs.gov).
3. Donate if you can
Emergency officials say the best way to help at present is to donate to reputable organizations that will funnel the right aid to the people who need it. You might consider these:
4. Stay informed
The American Veterinary Medical Association has created a special website page (www.avma.org) covering Hurricane Harvey information for veterinarians, including how AVMA member veterinarians participating in rescue and emergency care related to Hurricane Harvey may apply for reimbursement grants through the AVMF.