Yum-Yum + Koko lounge in their new home in Houston
The images flashed across the television screen and burned into Betsy Fleming’s mind. A drenched cat swimming through deep flood waters. Dogs chained up and abandoned in their backyards.
An animal lover, Betsy had to do something after Hurricane Harvey.
The Houston resident volunteered at a pop-up pet shelter and reunion center in Conroe, Texas, operated by Best Friends Animal Society.
“Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones that was high and dry, but when I saw the devastation around me, and when I saw what else was going on in the city and how difficult it was, I wanted to be able to reach out and help somehow,” said Betsy.
Your donation made it possible for Betsy—and more than 1,300 Best Friends fellow volunteers—to act fast. They cared for more than 1,600 Harvey-affected animals from August to November. They cuddled scared cats, calmed distressed dogs, and cared for animals in harm’s way after the storm.
For Best Friends, reuniting lost animals with their families was the ultimate goal. But after a disaster of Harvey’s proportions, it’s difficult, Betsy explained.
“People are out there looking for their animals. But at the same time, they’re coming back to nothing. They’re coming back to no house, no car, nothing,” she said. “I am sure there’s still a lot of heartbroken people out there because they lost a family member during Harvey.”
Thanks to Betsy, three homeless cats were able to put the horrors of Harvey behind them, for good. Betsy adopted two kittens, Koko and Yum-Yum, from the Best Friends shelter where she volunteered. Her mother, who lives in New Orleans, adopted a cat named Lola.
“I was immediately drawn to them, especially Koko, because every time I would walk by their cage, she would come to the front and just cry and cry and cry and cry. I’d reach in and pick her up, and she would just plaster herself to my body,” Betsy said.
The Houstonian couldn’t leave behind Lola, either. “She had the saddest eyes. She seemed very depressed at finding herself in this situation,” recalled Betsy.
All three cats are now happily settled into their new homes, Betsy said. Yum-Yum is a curious troublemaker, and Koko loves to cuddle. In New Orleans, Lola is treated like a queen—she sleeps in bed with Betsy’s mom and gets canned cat food and lots of toys.
“She is very thrilled with her life,” Betsy said.
With your help, Best Friends cared for nearly 800 animals at its Texas shelter in the days and weeks following Hurricane Harvey. Koko, Yum-Yum, and Lola are among 99 homeless pets who were adopted into loving new homes after the storm, according to Candi Maciel, who leads Best Friends’ partnership with GlobalGiving.
Some lucky pets were reunited with their families. This includes Boy, a caramel-colored pit bull terrier, whose family was forced from their apartment in Houston to Dallas after the hurricane. Best Friends’ reunited Boy with his family in November.
Best Friends had to send 500 Harvey-displaced animals to other shelters across the United States. The nonprofit is working hard to ensure their stories will end happily, too. Last month, it wound down its hurricane relief operations but plans to maintain a presence in Houston to help save as many animals as possible.
“The brightest light during this unprecedented series of storms was the constant reminder that together, we can make a difference,” said Kelly Morton of Best Friends. “Thanks to your swift and generous support, we were able to provide aid to affected animals exactly when it was needed the most.”
Thank you again for your generous support of vetted, high-impact nonprofits, like Best Friends Animal Society, that are helping people (and their pets!) affected by Harvey recover. We’ll be back in your inbox again in the coming months with more stories of progress.
Britt Lake + GlobalGiving Team
Best Friends helped Boy reunite with his family