Gimme shelter: Justice for animals abandoned in Galveston, Texas
At least a hundred Galvestonian animals have been found and remanded to shelter care each and every day since Hurricane Ike. Abandoned in homes, roaming the streets, tied to poles and occasionally washed up on the beach, these pets (and the occasional member of a wildlife species) are flooding nearby Texas shelters and sanctuaries.
We talk a big game here on Dolittler about what needs to happen with these guys in advance of a storm. Microchips, tags, and safe lodging with their owners. We also bleed our hearts dry over pets foreclosed on and left to fend for themselves.
But for all our entreaties, it seems humans will be humans. They will often fail their pets in a pinch. Even the slightest squeeze seems to be enough for some of these pet owners.
I mean, who ties up an animal, Katrina-style, to a first floor tether when they live on an island in the direct path of a storm?
There’s no excuse. It’s reported that even the very last bus out of Galveston in advance of Ike was willing to take pets along with its human cargo.
Some people clearly shouldn’t keep pets. More than that—these people deserve to be prosecuted for their misdeeds when it comes to abandoning pets during a storm.
Whether you’re suffering a foreclosure or fleeing a hurricane, there’s just no sane reason to leave your pet to fend for itself on the streets. There should be a law. Wait…I think one already exists:
Abandoning pets constitutes animal cruelty if the animal is unable to fend for itself—especially in the face of an impending storm. Animal cruelty is illegal. Ergo, enforcement is all that’s in order at this point.
If every abandoned pet in Galveston led to the appropriate prosecution of his or her owners, what kind of precedent would that set for other Texas pets whose owners are considering abandonment as an option? Would it deter them from abandoning their pets? From getting pets in the first place? From contributing to the overpopulation problem with their other lax husbandry protocols?
Would it diminish the stress on shelters in the wake of a storm like Ike? On every other day of the year, as well?
Or would it mean more animals would end up locked out of doors with no identification at all in the event of a hurricane like Ike? Would it force the seriously irresponsible to step up efforts to divorce themselves from all pet responsibility in a pinch, knowing they’d have to pay for it later if they took any measures to safeguard them or identify these animals as theirs?
I don’t know the right answer to these questions. But I do know we need to stop feeling so sorry for people who lose their homes and/or suffer storm damage that we’re willing to forgive them their trespasses when it comes to taking responsibility for their pets.
After all, it’s everyone who pays...but most of all, the cruelly abandoned animals who now face the double whammy of temporary disorientation and imminent euthanasia. Surely our society believes they deserve some version of justice...even in Texas.
Imagine you were King of Texas...what would you do?