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Animal Shelter Sets New Standards for Disaster Response

Friends For Life Cared For Nearly 3,000 Animals Impacted By Hurricane

Y ou can bring your pets.” These five simple words immensely impacted the lives of pets and their human companions during the Hurricane Harvey evacuation and forever altered the blueprint for our nation’s disaster response.

While the wind roared and floodwaters rose, Friends For Life Animal Shelter and Sanctuary in Houston mobilized its disaster-trained staff and army of passionate volunteers to deliver pet food, blan­k­ets, leashes, crates and veterinary care to the George R. Brown Convention Center, where 10,000 people displaced by floodwaters were permitted to evacuate with their pets.

It was an about-face approach following the tragedy of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina when people in Louisiana refused to evacuate without their pets.

As Houston’s only no-kill shelter, Friends For Life knew the results of its efforts would define how the nation thinks about sheltering people with animals during a disaster.

The results of the unprecedented initiative speak for themselves: At its peak, the shelter at George R. Brown housed approximately 10,000 people; approximately 1,500 animals received free veterinary care and supplies; and between Aug. 27 and Sept. 8, Friends For Life provided care for nearly 3,000 total animals impacted by the hurricane.

Friends For Life, in conjunction with the city of Houston and all the people who volunteered, created a “proof of concept” for the nation – establishing that people and animals can safely be sheltered together. It was the truest definition of a pivotal moment for Houston and animals across the country.

Executive Director Salise Shuttles­worth founded Friends For Life in 2002 to offer a no-kill alternative to traditionally run shelters in the Houston area. Friends For Life’s ongoing efforts provide adoption services, rescue and rehabilitation, and support for frustrated pet owners struggling with behavioral and other concerns.

For more information or to support the ongoing efforts of Friends For Life in Houston, visit friends4life.org.

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