Published in the September 13 – September 26, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

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Photo courtesy 911 Foster Dogs website. Visit www.blog.911fosterpets.com/list-animal-shelters-rescues-path-hurricane-harvey.

With all the damage sustained from Hurricane Harvey, hundreds of animals from shelters are being transported to shelter and rescues throughout the states, including the Bay Area. With Hurricane Irma approaching the East Coast, we may see even more displaced animals from these regions. Pet adoption during these times is crucial in order to help prevent overpopulation in shelters and rescues. Prompt adoption also helps preserve the shelter’s resources so they can help as many animals as possible. If you are considering adopting one of these pets, here are a few considerations.

Many of these animals have gone through tremendous trauma. They are scared, have been transported across the country and are often left emotionally traumatized. Some may have experienced the flooding, wind and rains of the hurricane. All of these factors can affect the animal you bring home. You will have to be extra patient in letting the animal bond and become confident in new surroundings. Take things slowly, especially when it comes to introducing children and other pets. A frightened dog will often bite, no matter how nice he may normally be. Be very careful and take extra precautions. You don’t know these animals and what they have experienced. Many of them may be startled and even terrified by loud or sudden noises. Noises that are normal to a household with children may be overwhelming to some of these pets. Some of them may also have severe aversions to water. They may be terrified to get a bath or become scared when the water is turned on. Be aware of these triggers and provide reassurance.

There are also some medical considerations. There is a very high incidence of heartworm disease is these regions. Heartworm is endemic in the Bay Area, but we do not see nearly the number of cases they see in states like Texas (and the entire southern region) because they have a climate that fosters mosquitoes, the vector for the disease. Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes to pets and the heartworm then develop and grow into worms that live/migrate in the heart and lungs. It is a fatal disease if not treated but an infected animal may look perfectly normal if it has not yet gone into heart failure. Early infection can only be detected with a blood test. The shelters and rescues may not have the resources to perform heartworm tests on all these animals. Be sure that if the animal you are adopting has not been tested, take him to your veterinarian right away and have a heartworm test performed. it can be treated but is a very costly and involved process.

These regions often have increased levels of other parasites as well because they flourish in the tropical climate. Have your veterinarian perform a fecal examination. They see parasites that may not be treated by common preventative deworming protocols used locally.

Everyone will need to support the recovery process. The devastation has been immense and the effects trickled down to pets as well. Be informed if you adopt a displaced pet. Be prepared for possible noise and water anxiety. Be patient. Make sure you talk to your veterinarian about any adopted pet … the rescuers do their best to provide good care but sometimes the time and resources can be limiting factors. Adopt one of these animals because you are looking to help and be prepared to help them adapt to their new home, both emotionally and financially.

Several Bay Area rescue groups have pets available for adoption. Look online for more resources on locating a pet in need of a home.

Jeanne Haggerty-Arcay

Jeanne Haggerty-Arcay

Contributor at Morgan Hill Life
Dr. Jeanne Haggerty-Arcay received her undergraduate degrees in biology, biochemistry and Spanish from the College of Notre Dame, Belmont. She graduated from U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She enjoys spending time with her husband and three young children.
Jeanne Haggerty-Arcay