While the main concern from Hurricane Harvey those who can walk and talk, one entity in Lea County is committed to helping those who have fur, hooves, paws and claws and mostly want to be petted.
A small caravan of Lea County residents who care about what happens to animals displaced, lost or abandoned is forming to take supplies 12 to 14 hours to South Texas animal shelters and transport back any animals to the relative safety of the the Chihuahuan Desert.
Misty Smith, head vet tech at Great Plains Veterinary Hospital, along with her husband, Colter and her father, Brad Cate plan to leave tomorrow for Katy, Texas, which has an animal rescue center.
“We’ll be driving a bus that Amazing Grace (Pet Rescue) is providing,” Smith said. “And we have a pickup and a horse trailer. We’d like to have lots of pet supplies in both vehicles for the shelters that need them. And, of course, we want supplies for the animals we bring back with us.”
Smith said she watched television of the events in South Texas throughout the weekend and became convinced that she was called to relieve the suffering of pets and other animals stranded by the storm. She discussed that conviction with John Kuitu, the veterinarian who owns Great Plains Veterinary Clinic and he immediately began a campaign to facilitate the rescue mission.
“We put it on Facebook,” Smith said, “and people began to respond, bringing towels, blankets, bags of dog food and cat food, cat litter, bird food and other supplies needed for animal rescue. But we need more”
Kuitu said he has been particularly touched by pictures of animals attempting to take care of themselves.
“I saw a picture of a dog trotting down the street, carrying a bag of dog food in his mouth,” Kuitu said. “And there was this hawk who flew into a cab and sat in the passenger seat and refused to get out. So the cab driver took him to his house and fed him and then sent the hawk to a wildlife rehab center.”
Smith said her caravan chose Katy because there is a Hurricane Harvey Animal Rescue Needs Facebook page.
Brandy Ellison’s husband Will and their son, William, will drive a semi-wrecker, an army truck and trailer, and take with them a small boat to Port Aransas to participate in whatever rescue efforts are necessary.
Brandy Ellison is a volunteer with Amazing Grace, responsible for rescue and what she called “buddying.” She said her family chose to go to Port Aransas because the town is small and does not seem to have as many resources as larger places.
“But if they’re needed somewhere else, that’s where they’ll go,” she said as she took a few minutes from shopping for animal food, sanitizers, gloves. “I don’t know how long they’ll be gone. It may be three days or it maybe 10 days.”
Kuitu said his clinic will house some of the rescued animals that come back. “But we are going to have help from Double J and Hobbs Animal Clinic,” he said.
Receptionists at Double J said their veterinarian, Mark Justice, will take care of large animals that require medical treatment or housing. A spokesperson at Hobbs Animal Hospital, said their veterinarian, Don Newman, will take care of small animals as well as provide housing for as many as 20-25 animals.
While it’s probable that most of the rescued animals are domesticated, it is possible that some rescues will be wild. Deer, squirrels, raccoons and similar types of animals may well be part of the rescue effort. If they are, it’s likely that they will go to Betty Nixon of Desert Willow Rescue.
“I will take care of anything except birds of prey,” Nixon said. “They have to go to Carlsbad to a certified wildlife caregiver.”
Amazing Grace and volunteers need money to help pay for gasoline and supplies as they undertake their mission to assist animals. They also need all kinds of pet supplies. Take both supplies and monetary donations to Great Plains Veterinary Clinic, 2720 Loving-ton Highway.
In addition to efforts by Amazing Grace, the Hobbs Adoption Center is encouraging people to make donations to rescue operations.
“We are collecting donations,” said Britt Lusk, Hobbs administrative services director. “If you bring in a donation of pet food — dog or cat food — or kitty liter and if it’s got a value of at least $20 we’re waiving the adoption fee for animals at the adoption center. We wanted just to help out. We remember all the displaced animals from (Hurricane) Katrina. They suffer from these type of events as well.”
Lusk added that the Adoption Center will continue this program through September.
“The Lea County Humane Society has their transport vehicle and we have a volunteer that has volunteered through them,” Lusk said. “The supplies will go to all those that were hit by the hurricane — up and down the Texas coast.”
“And even though we are waiving the adoption fees, if somebody wants to donate please feel free to contact us or bring something by — you don’t have to adopt a pet to participate.”
Denise Marquez contributed to this article.