Few events have challenged the animal welfare world like the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005. As Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans in late August, residents were forced to flee without their pets, leaving thousands of animals homeless and stranded. By the time Hurricane Rita hit just a few weeks later, more than 200 animal welfare groups had banded together to undertake the largest animal rescue mission in U.S. history.
Even before Katrina hit, the ASPCA was among the first to arrive on the scene—and we remained for the long haul, aiding evacuation efforts and providing critical funding and expertise in the weeks and months that followed the storm. ASPCA rescuers spent 20-hour days navigating floodwaters and mountains of debris to retrieve trapped, lost and frightened pets and transport them to safety. Working hand in hand with animal welfare professionals and volunteers from across the country, the ASPCA helped rescue, reunite and rehome more than 8,000 stranded animals.
Our supporters responded with an incredible outpouring of generosity, donating more than $13 million to the ASPCA Disaster Relief Fund. The ASPCA immediately stepped up with an initial commitment of $2.5 million to the Hurricane Reconstruction Fund, a multi-agency effort to rebuild shelters large and small and restore animal control programs throughout the region. More than $10 million in aid quickly followed as the ASPCA funded hundreds of rescue and shelter operations across the country. Whether it was a few hundred dollars spent to transport puppies to New England in order to free up shelter space down south, or millions spent to rebuild an entire shelter along the Gulf Coast, the ASPCA was there to provide the resources.
And with the expertise of our ASPCA disaster readiness specialists, we continue to aid and assist animals and animal welfare agencies all over the country—before disaster strikes and in the midst of emergency situations.
For vital information on creating disaster plans that include your pets, visit our Disaster Preparedness Tips.