As Hurricane Irma Slams Florida, People Are Still Trying to Figure Out What is Happening to Pets in
Hurricane Irma, a category 4 storm, is currently battering South Florida, with winds so strong they reportedly snapped a construction crane in downtown Miami, even though Irma is moving up the OTHER coast of the state. And, as animal welfare organizations begin preparations to help Florida shelters, many people are still wondering what is happening to pets "rescued" in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which hit Eastern Texas about two weeks ago.
People have reason to be concerned about how pets are being handled in Texas and how they are likely to be handled in Florida. In fact, Houston Press and others have been asking some tough questions, and they not getting very clear answers. For example, the Houston SPCA, which is running a temporary rescue operation in Beaumont, Texas, has refused to commit to keeping pets taken in after Harvey safe, or ensuring that pets they transfer to other agencies will not be killed. They also do not appear to be asking shelters to not kill any of their existing pets in order to make room for Harvey rescues.
We know those seem like things we should not have to worry about. The fact of the matter is, however, that animal advocates do need to worry about those things and more because high-kill "shelters" are "rescuing" animals from both of these disasters. And, while flood waters and devastation have been high, transparency and reporting have been woefully lacking, which is troubling not only because animals' lives are at stake, but also because millions of dollars pour into these rescue efforts. The donors do not expect to be funding killing.
You do not need to look any further than People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to see how disaster profiteering works. Shortly after Harvey made landfall in Texas, PETA announced they were deploying a team from their Norfolk, VA headquarters to go "rescue" animals from Texas. To uninformed PETA supporters, that would sound well and good; and, along with PETA's plea for funds to help them, they likely got a lot of people to crack open their wallets to donate to such a worthy cause. However, people familiar with PETA know that the "shelter" they operate in Norfolk (the only "shelter" they operate) contains no animal housing. According to Virginia Department of Agriculture inspection reports, the "shelter" consists of a "euthanasia" table and a walk in freezer, and the organization has maintained a kill rate of about 90% for years. The State Inspector likened the "shelter" to a "euthanasia clinic."
As terrible as that is, it gets worse, because PETA also operates a fleet of so-called "euthanasia vans," one of which was caught on surveillance video as PETA employees stole a little girl's happy and healthy pet Chihuahua only to kill her hours later. PETA staff members have also been caught illegally dumping the bodies of animals they killed..... that they obtained in order to kill by lying to owners saying they were going to find the animals homes.
It is, therefore, understandable that animal advocates would have strong reason to be concerned about PETA's Hurricane Harvey rescue fundraising and PR, and to scrutinize them, along with any of PETA's so-called "rescue partners." And, fortunately, thanks to a relatively unique law in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is relatively easy for people to do just that.
Virginia law requires animal shelters to report their animal outcomes to the state every year, and advocates at No Kill Hampton Roads have compiled the data and published it in an easy-to-read format. The data shows that many of the organizations with which PETA reportedly partnered for their Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts have relatively high kill rates themselves. This all begs the question, "why would high-kill organizations go "save" animals halfway across the nation when they can't really take care of the animals they already have?" We probably won't ever fully know the answer to that. But, the dollars that pour in from disaster response and rescue is almost certainly part of it. We know there is money to be made off being a disaster profiteer. We also know that many of the organizations that behave this way already have their eyes on the pets currently being affected in Florida. Many are already raising money for their "rescue" efforts there.