We could barely see the road ahead of us as we drove the convoluted path to the Austin Pets Alive shelter. The shelter itself was packed with volunteers and eager fosters, the tile floors caked with mud and moisture. After waiting for a volunteer, we stepped out of the administration building and into the rain once again. But we didn't open our umbrellas: within moments we were walking behind long, weighted, plastic sheets protecting the dogs' pens from the worst of the rain.
Even so, the scared and confused animals were either hiding in the back corner or jumping up at their cage doors. We walked past kennels that seemed to stretch on forever as the volunteer prompted my friends, Analisa R. and Zoe dB., about their living conditions – did they have any other pets, what floor did they live on, how many people lived in the apartment.
Finally, after reaching what must have been the dozenth section of cages, we came across a whimpering young dog named Pebbles. Her face was dotted with scars from old fights, and she looked as if she'd recently had puppies, but most of her past was a mystery. As if it wasn't hard enough to discern the history of shelter dogs, many of the pups in front of us had been rushed in from the coast to save them from drowning in Hurricane Harvey:
On the first day of Harvey, my roommate ran into my room with a Facebook page that said the animal shelters were full of animals from the coast and needed help. Within 2 hours, the lovely Pebbles, a pitbull terrier mix, was excitedly exploring our apartment. —Analisa R. and Zoe dB.
Within three hours, the two girls opting to temporarily foster Pebbles in their apartment had gone through the vetting process, gotten the dog and bought all the necessarily supplies. We spent the remainder of the day getting all of her energy out in the form of tug-of-war. Though I don't live in the apartment that decided to foster Pebbles for the next two weeks, I get regular updates of her couch-potatoing.
Fostering a dog or cat from a shelter taking in evacuated animals – yet in danger of flooding itself – is possibly the most labor-intensive thing a college student can do to help. Unfortunately, this is likely limited to Texan college students with access to shelters such as Austin Pets Alive or the Texas SPCA. But there are plenty of things college students from around the country – or even around the globe – can do to help. Here are some organizations an eager student eager can support in order to help Hurricane Harvey's victims:
1. Food banks
To donate, you can follow the link above, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also choose to donate blood at any local blood bank to help save a victim's life.
You can also text CCUSADISASTER to 71777 to donate.
The crowdfund's goal is to raise $2 million for Harvey aid.
So please join with us Texans in helping the victims of this catastrophic natural disaster. With most of my own family and dogs trapped among rising waters back in Houston, I know for a fact that every dollar could mean the future to many, humans and animals alike:
Pebbles Loves going on runs, has a dangerous tennis ball obsession and may enroll in a drug detection program. But for now, we get to love on her for a few more days. —Analisa R. and Zoe dB.
Spread some love.
Lead Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons