“We have two staff that have been certified for animal water rescue that we sent down along with a boat,” according to ARL executive director Tom Colvin. He says they are on the way to an area south of Houston, Texas. Colvin isn’t sure how long they will be there.
He says there is talk they may be needed further east of Texas in Louisiana once they get done, and he says they will know more once they get there. He says rescuing animals in this type of situation is a lot different than what they normally do.
“You can imagine all the hazards that go along with being in flood water. And so the hazards they are facing in that is something they have been trained for,” Colvin explains. “But in addition, then the animals themselves are going to be frightened and maybe not trusting their rescuers and that type of thing. So, animal handling and being aware of their surroundings from a water hazard standpoint are reasons why they have to have certified people on the front lines.” There have been hundreds of images of dogs and cats and other animals swimming through the floodwaters or climbing to higher ground to escape. Colvin says that’s typical of what you see in a disaster like this.
“Most animals have a very strong survival instinct — so they can and do surprise people so much by what they are capable of doing,” he says. It’s the animals that may’ve been left behind in a hurry that will be the focus of the Iowa rescuers.
He says the ones who are in a house or confined in some way are the biggest concern. Colvin says we need to get humans and animals out of the unsafe situation and to safe ground. He says it appears that feeding the animals once they are rescued is not an issue.
“Sounds like there’s a lot of pet food supplies down there. I think what is primarily needed is the money that goes toward medications and all the types of things that are necessarily something that people can donate,” according to Colvin. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa is accepting donations on its website to help the animal rescue effort.
Colvin says they have already brought some 20 dogs back to Iowa to help clear some room in some of the shelters in Texas. He says they have also been asked to stand by with their horse trailers in case they are needed to take care of horses saved from the flooding.