Colorado flooding: Humane societies provide for evacuated pets
September 19, 2013
People living along the Front Range aren't the only ones who've been rescued from recent flooding. A large part of the evacuation efforts have focused on the retrieval of household pets.
The Summit County Search and Rescue Group plucked 19 dogs and cats from flooded homes while responding to flooding in Boulder County last week. That's just a handful of the hundreds of pets that have been rescued through emergency response efforts.
Because the bond between pets and their owners is so strong, local humane shelters and veterinary groups have done their best to respond to the influx of pets, said Humane Society of Boulder Valley CEO Lisa Pedersen.
"For some of the families who have been most devastated, their pets are the only thing they have," Pedersen said.
The Humane Society in Boulder has had about 72 animals come through their facilities since flood evacuations began.
"We are providing free temporary housing while owners figure out their housing," Pedersen said.
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The society has also been working to provide a place for pets to reside near human shelters.
Thanks to the help of the Jefferson County Animal Response Team, Pedersen said nine pets are staying close to their owners at the Coors Events Center, which is currently providing shelter for about 40 people on the University of Colorado campus.
Stephanie Ashley, the marketing and community outreach director for Larimer Humane Society, said her organization has also been stocking existing "people" shelters with food and other pet supplies in an effort to keep pets close to their owners.
"A lot of folks just don't want to be separate from their pets, and we totally understand," Ashley said.
The Larimer Humane Society coordinated with the Colorado Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps to provide medical services to evacuated pets brought to the local armory on National Guard rescue helicopters. The humane societies have also been offering food, bedding and toys for evacuated residents who have their pets with them, but don't have the means to provide for them at this time, Ashley said.
The pet rescue efforts have the potential to put financial strain on the humane societies. Because of the limited room to store supplies, Pedersen and Ashley said the best way to make an impact on the long-term needs is through financial donations.
Denver-based nonprofit Loveanimals.org CEO Sarah Timms recently set up a venue for people to donate to flood-impacted humane societies in Colorado.
"When people are evacuated, it generally happens very fast and they aren't prepared to deal with their pets, so shelters play a crucial role offering a place where pet owners can safely leave their animals," she said. "It's so stressful to everybody, so knowing you can take your animal to a shelter and it will be really well looked after is invaluable."
Donations can be made to Longmont, Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties' humane societies through the LoveAnimals.org website, and through individual humane society websites.
To contribute to a fund assisting people and pets who are suffering as a result of flooding, the state of Colorado has pooled resources at http://www.HelpColoradoNow.org.
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