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Purely by chance, I was on vacation out of state when Hurricane Harvey came barreling down on the Texas Gulf. I was forced to watch from afar as Harvey, a Category 4 nightmare, hit Aransas Pass, Texas, USA, where some of my family lives. And then, when it hit the Houston area, where more family and my own home are located, I was forced to watch some more. A frantic call to a friend ensured that my dog and two cats were removed from my house around midnight the night before and evacuated to Dallas, but in the days immediately following I spent a significant amount of time on the phone or online with animal shelters, veterinarians and boarding places trying to ensure my pets’ safety until I could get to them.
Now, as the waters begin to recede and the assistance from all corners rolls in, I am reminded that, when it matters, the industry I spend so much of my time writing about and for will come together and do whatever’s needed to protect and benefit the two- and four-legged customers it serves.
“Pet store and veterinary hospital groups, manufacturers and distributors, and associations and organizations within the pet industry are pooling their resources and working with lead disaster and shelter officials to coordinate the logistics of providing much-needed supplies, including sharing warehouses, facilities and distribution centers for storage until affected areas can be accessed,” said the Pet Leadership Council in an August 31 press release. “They are also tapping resources to help provide vehicles and helicopters to assist with evacuations and providing financial assistance to rescue organizations.”
Names that are part of my day-to-day professional life are hitting my inbox for all the right reasons. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has donated US$100,000 towards relief efforts through its American Veterinary Medical Foundation. The association is also serving as a liaison in the veterinary community regarding disaster-related information, and has set up a web page with links to resource materials, hotlines and companies offering in-kind products in order to connect those who want to help with those needing assistance.
Mars Petcare has deployed sponsored canine search and rescue teams from the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation to the Austin, Texas, USA area to help, and are coordinating with non-profit partner GreaterGood.org’s Rescue Bank program to send more than 40,000 pounds of their food for pets in the area who are in immediate need of assistance.
I and love and you is donating 20,000 meals to the convention center in Houston as part of its “Hearts Fur Harvey” campaign, and has dedicated the month of September 2017 to supporting its rescue and shelter partners working in the affected areas.
Tuffy's Pet Foods has established a GoFundMe page for others who wish to pledge their support to the pets and pet owners who have been severely challenged by Hurricane Harvey. The page is accessible at: www.gofundme.com/hurricane-harvey-reliefnutrisource or via the NutriSource website at: www.nutrisourcepetfoods.com/hurricaneharvey.
This is the smallest sample of the overwhelming and all-encompassing way the pet industry has responded to a disaster that has affected millions of humans and thousands upon thousands of their pets (the city of Houston alone has 2.3 million people). I usually provide you with industry trends, some kind of analysis, a tidbit of forward-looking information, but at the moment, I only have one thing to say to every industry professional reading this: