Austin animal shelters, student volunteers step up to house animals affected by Hurricane Ida

Tori Duff, News Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared as part of the September 8 flipbook.

The UT and Austin communities accepted and cared for the dozens of Louisianan dog and cat refugees as Hurricane Ida flooded large parts of the state last week.

“I think it’s amazing because it shows the community coming together to help get the word out and put light on this issue,” said Grace Ariola, a Plan II senior who volunteers at the Austin Animal Center.

As of Aug. 28, the Austin Humane Society accepted nearly 70 Louisianan dog and cat refugees as Hurricane Ida wiped electricity and infrastructure from large parts of the state last week. As of Tuesday, community members have adopted over 40 refugee animals after the shelter sent out a plea to its foster network, said Katie Kennedy, the shelter’s director of communication.

The society was not able to provide capacity numbers or typical adoption rates at the time of publication, but the shelter currently houses 33 dogs and 30 cats available for adoption. This is not including animals the society is preparing for adoption, according to its website.

“When we saw Hurricane Ida forming, we started the plan … we had heard that there were probably going to be some shelters in Louisiana that would need our help,” Kennedy said.

The shelter told the public via social media and newsletters that now was the time to adopt to create more room for refugee animals, Kennedy said. The shelter was at capacity before it  started accepting refugee animals on Aug. 26, but after promoting fostering and adopting in preparation for the storm, it freed up enough room to accept the extra animals.

The shelter plans to take in 18 more refugee cats on Wednesday via airplane to Houston where the staff will drive them to Austin, Kennedy said.

Potential adopters can visit the Austin Humane Society website or visit in person to meet the animals. Then, they must fill out an adoption waiver and meet with an adoption counselor to talk about the animal’s personality. Adopters can potentially take an animal home the same day. Adoption fees typically range from $85 to $100.

Ariola said it was amazing to hear how many animals were adopted following the hurricane intake.

“We go out of our way to try to make their lives a little better by providing treats and enrichment and loving on them as best as we can,” Ariola said. “The best part is when they get adopted; we cry because we love them so much.”