Humane Society Helps Galveston Animals After Hurricane Ike

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Photo by Craig MalisowKyle Held came from St. Louis to help.

Kyle Held and Catherine Raymond must have driven Galveston’s west end back and forth 100 times this past week.

They’re from the Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis; just two of the dozens of animal rescue personnel who flocked to the island from Michigan, Colorado, New York, Louisiana and California. They’re holed up at the Galveston Police Station, which is now acting as a temporary rescue shelter. Hundreds of dogs, cats, birds, snakes, rabbits – you name it – are brought back here for emergency treatment (if necessary) then are caged and loaded onto trailers bound for the Houston SPCA. Held and Raymond arrived late Saturday night, and have been working nearly around the clock, responding to calls from owners who evacuated without their pets, concerned neighbors, passers by. Raymond, an exam-room assistant, has been bunking in an RV. Held has carved out a bedroom in his pickup, amid bags of pet food and other supplies. Rescue workers have been getting hot meals from the Salvation Army, as well as a Baptist church by the airport, which is also providing hot showers.

Jim Boller, a rescue worker from Colorado, is the point man here. He’s coordinating a massive effort under bad conditions, and doing it quite well, from the looks of it. Rows of cages line the halls inside the building; each one has bowls of food and water. But it’s still upsetting to hear the dogs’ nervous wailing as they’re loaded into transport crates. Some don’t want to budge.

Volunteer vets from Texas are examining the animals upon arrival – current law prohibits vets without Texas licenses to treat animals here. Up until a few days ago, when it looked like more residents might be allowed back, workers were mostly leaving food and water for the animals, with the idea they’d soon be reunited with their owners. That’s not the case now. However, even the severely hit west end was seeing its share of returning residents Saturday. Held and Raymond responded to a series of calls today where the owners had already returned for the animals – including a family who apparently were able to rescue their two dogs, two cats, rabbit and bearded dragon. Previous trips haven’t been so fortunate; Held and Raymond responded to a house the other day where the family’s cats were well fed – because they ate the pet birds.

Rescue workers have collected more than 500 animals as of Friday night, Boller says. The animals are photographed, and the pics are available at www.houstonspca.org, for owners to identify. Boller says they’ll be held in Houston for a minimum of ten days. Fortunately, he says, none have been euthanized. Unfortunately, they’re seeing some that were neglected even prior to the storm.

Photo by Craig MalisowMeghan Dillmore checks on a cat.

The damage in Jamaica Beach is a study in chance. Pristine houses stand next to piles of rubble. Boats have been turned upside down and are strewn about yards, like they were a giant’s playthings. Driving down one subdivision, the pair passed a board with the red spray painted inscription: “And the Lord taketh away.”

Livestock have also been a concern. Cattle have tended to wander onto the highway, so rescue workers have left bails of hay far back from the road, where they’ll be safe. Driving back from one call, Held and Raymond run into another pair of workers from the Missouri crew, who’re hauling a trailer of hay and a gigantic water container. They lead Held and Raymond to two horses who’ve wandered off their land. Fortunately, the horses have stumbled upon a shady patch of turf that happens to have a trough, so the crew fill it with water. Further down the road are cattle in need of a drink. These include a calf born on Thursday. His name is Ike.

-- Craig Malisow

Photo by Craig MalisowBaby Ike was born on Thursday.

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