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Tulsa, Oklahoma City Humane Society, volunteers take in hundreds of shelter dogs displaced by Hurricane Harvey

Deborah Morrow
More than 300 dogs and cats displaced from Hurricane Harvey were flown to the Tulsa Humane Society’s Emergency Rescue shelter.
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OKLAHOMA CITY- On Saturday, Deborah Morrow of Tulsa was up to her elbows in dogs.

As a member of the Oklahoma Medical Response Corp’s Animal Response Team, she was among the hundreds of Oklahomans who helped the Tulsa Humane Society take in more than 300 dogs and cats from Texas animal shelters before and after Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

The dogs and cats, which were shelter animals in Harris County, Houston, Baytown and San Antonio, were shipped to Dallas and Tulsa to make room for the hundreds of animals that would be rescued following the hurricane.

Those animals, which were flown to the Tulsa Humane Society’s Emergency Rescue shelter, were processed in and, in turn, flown to shelters in Tennessee, Wisconsin and Chicago. Approximately 30 of the Texas shelter animals were also sent to Oklahoma City Humane’s emergency shelter as well.

“We work with the Mutt Nation Foundation, and they requested our assistance for rescues of the shelters in those areas,” said Evan Fade, executive director of the Tulsa Humane Society. “We have our emergency shelter, but with 300 dogs and cats, it was pretty intense. Somehow, we pulled it off, but we had a great team and outstanding volunteers. The community support was amazing.”

All of the animals shipped to the Tulsa location were already shelter animals. The shelters in south Texas were evacuated, mainly to make room for the hundreds of pets and animals that would inevitably be rescued following Hurricane Harvey and the massive flooding in the area. On Wednesday, Aug. 30, the animals started to arrive via plane in Tulsa.

“So many times, people’s pets get displaced after a storm. Pets are part of the family,” Fadem said. “These animals we received are perfectly adoptable pets, so by taking them, we were able to free up space for shelters in Texas to house people’s rescued pets and give them a chance to reunite.”

Volunteers helped intake the hundreds of animals over the weekend in hot, humid conditions. The air conditioning units in the large room that housed the big dogs stopped working, and both animals and volunteers dealt with the Labor Day weekend heat.

“I’m part of the Oklahoma Medical Response Corp, and part of our group is an animal response unit,” said Morrow. “It was an incredible response, but very stressful too. All the animals were so loving and patient, considering what they had been through. They flew in airplanes and were kenneled in tight kennels. It was a stressful thing, and it was both sad and happy at the same time. It’s amazing to be able to help these animals in some way.”

The community in Tulsa also supported in force, with donations pouring in from companies like Southern Ag, PetsMart and PetCo and members of the public. Hotels in the area donated towels for use as well.

“The outpouring of support has been insane,” Fadem said.

Oklahoma wasn’t the only state to receive the shelter dogs. Pittsburg also received 70 shelter dogs from Texas, as did the California Bay Area. A Santa Monica-based animal rescue organization flew 30 dogs affected by Tropical Storm Harvey from Texas to the Los Angeles area over the weekend in hopes of getting them adopted.

Karma Rescue representatives and volunteers flew to Austin where dogs from Houston were taken in order to free up shelter space.

MuttNation Foundation is an organization focused on the adoption of shelter pets. The 501 (c)3 works hand in hand with private and municipal animal shelters to provide financial support, operate a national transport network, and host high profile adoption events across the country.


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Heide Brandes

Heide Brandes is an award-winning journalist and editor with more than 18 years of experience....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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