Should ‘refugee’ dogs and cats from Hurricane Harvey be shipped to Chicago for adoption?

We are told by ABC 7 that dozens of dogs and cats have recently arrived at PAWS Chicago after a 23 hour trip from flooded Houston. Sixty-nine have been shipped to San Francisco in Northern California. These are just two examples.

All of the animals need to be adopted and I presume potential adopters will arrive at shelters from areas surrounding Chicago and San Francisco. These dogs and cats will have new homes to go to and new owners to care for them.

Further shipments from Houston are due. Therefore we are looking at hundreds of domestic dogs and cats being shipped out away from areas devastated by the hurricane to places up north and in the west. That sounds fine and commendable but is there a better alternative? The reason why hundreds of pets are being shipped out of the area to be rehomed in Chicago and San Francisco is because the existing owners have lost their homes. I presume that is the reason. That must be the reason, in fact. Having lost their homes even if they were reunited with their pets they would have nowhere to live to look after them. But for how long have they lost their homes? Days or months?

Might it not be a better idea if pet owners who had lost their homes were provided with temporary accommodation in houses which had avoided the hurricane but which were as near as possible to the flooded homes? Could not owners of those homes come forward and offer to provide temporary accommodation for these people? Or landlords could come forward and offer homes at reduced rent if the accomodation was habitable but not in perfect order.

The dogs and cats could then be temporarily placed in shelters as near as possible to their original homes where their owners could eventually be reunited with them. If these shelters near Houston are currently full of rescue animals or flooded then those cats and dogs could be shipped up to Chicago and San Francisco to make room for Hurricane Harvey refugee pets (if not flooded). We know that these cats and dogs are genuinely without an owner and therefore they need to be adopted. That is in contrast to dogs and cats affected by the hurricane who have owners and simply need to be reunited with them.

Many of the homes which had been flooded might need rebuilding but many will simply need repair. The floodwaters may take weeks to subside but in some cases it will be days. Therefore, people who are temporarily housed in other people’s homes could return to their home in the Houston area with their pets within say a few weeks. This will allow pets and people to stick together rather than be separated permanently. And being housed temporarily in someone else’s home for a few weeks is not a huge burden for the homeowner I would suggest.

I just feel that the default method of shipping domestic cats and dogs thousand miles out of the flooded area to shelters and then to foster homes and then new adoptions might not be the ideal method of dealing with this natural disaster. I just wonder whether more effort could be made to ensure that owners retain possession of their pets. No doubt many of them will have identification such as microchips and therefore they can be reunited fairly straightforwardly.

You only have to keep both animal and person as near as practically possible to where they originally lived to allow them to be reunited within a few weeks. Quite a large number of people might benefit from this method. Other pet owners may never go back to their homes and in which case there may be no alternative but for their pets to be adopted by new owners in the north.

P.S. Are some pet owners using the circumstances to relinquish their pets?

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