HOUSTON, Texas - As the full extent of the damage from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana starts to become clear, indications of the impact on wild and domestic animals has ecologists and farmers concerned, with countless animals now abandoned or homeless.
An estimated 600,000 animals were killed or stranded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and that could easily happen again with Hurricane Harvey, which has caused massive flooding here.
Houston also contains the most populated and diverse wild animal ecosystem in Texas. Deer, wild hogs, raccoons, and armadillos are the most populous wild mammals within the Harvey-hit region.
In some areas, the floodwaters reached levels that would make it difficult or impossible for animals to survive.
Displaced reptiles pose a threat to public safety. Alligators and poisonous snakes have been encountered with greater frequency, with floodwaters carrying them into suburban areas.
There’s also great concern for cows and other livestock who are threatened by the rising waters.
For Texas ranchers, the cost for the loss of a herd of cattle could reach several million dollars.
When people moved to safer locations during the storm, they took important items with them. For many, that included taking their pets.
But that was not always the case. Many pets have been left behind, abandoned in flooded houses, chained to trees and sadly left to fend for themselves amid the rising floodwaters.
Shelters throughout the state are overwhelmed to keep up with the sheer number of pets and other animals in need.
An estimated 3,000 additional animals are expected to be sheltered.
Animals are being brought in by panicked owners, sometimes injured, sick, terrified, not knowing if they are going to be safe, or if they will even come back home.
“Isa sila sa priority namin na-safe sila, may pagkain, may tubig at doon sa iba na may alaga diyan, hindi namin lubos na maisip na kaya nilang iwanan ang mga hayop nila at abandonahin,” said Trudee Guevarra.
Hundreds of unclaimed and unidentifiable animals have already been flown to animal centers in other states to make room for the next wave of pets displaced by the hurricane.