Is your next pet from Houston?

Is your next pet from Houston?

Calling all those with big backyards and spacious windowsills: Chicago’s animal shelters are looking for your help.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have left a lot of people — and, by extension, their pets — without a home. To prepare for an increase in lost and injured animals, shelters in Southeast Texas had to free up valuable space and resources. Chicago-area animal shelters answered the call and over the holiday weekend took in more than 170 cats and dogs from Houston. More keep arriving.

It’s the furry feel-good story of the year.

Some came by air: A plane touched down in Waukegan on Sept. 4 with 130 cats and dogs on board, ready to be sent to rescue centers around Chicago and Indianapolis. Others came by land: Volunteers from PAWS Chicago, the city’s largest no-kill shelter, drove four vans to Texas and back (that’s 17 hours each way), returning with 43 four-legged friends in tow.

Most of these soon-to-be pets were already up for adoption before flooding ravaged the Houston area; new owners won’t need to worry about getting a call in a few years from their pets’ original parents. But a few of the cats and dogs were given up by their owners, with the hope that their pets might find warm, safe homes before they do.

We expect that metro Chicagoans will rise to the challenge to find both temporary and forever homes for new residents from Texas and Florida; the city already has a high pet-adoption rate.

But, as with a shar-pei, there are a few wrinkles: Several of the animals from Houston have ringworm and heartworm, which means they’ll need to be in foster care for up to three months before they can be officially adopted. Ringworm is contagious but easily treated with regular baths and medication. Treatment for heartworm — which is not contagious — requires going back to the shelter or to a veterinarian.

The problem is that animals with diseases like ringworm need to be isolated, and a shelter that treats medical conditions, like PAWS, only has so much space. It will be up to foster parents — preferably those without small children or other pets — to care for the animals and take them to checkups as needed. After their required months of medical care are up, those southern transplants will either be put up for adoption or settle into their forever homes with their foster parents.

Like much in Harvey and Irma’s aftermath, this isn’t a short-term need. PAWS founder Paula Fasseas tells us that volunteers will have to help shuttle pets between Texas and Chicago again; some animals weren’t ready to be released from shelters and will need medical attention when they arrive. Ringworm and heartworm are common in the South, where the weather is more humid.

Things will getting back to normal in Texas and Florida. But hurricanes uproot lives far beyond their paths of destruction. This is Chicago’s chance to do its (puppy-sized) part for Texas and Florida. For those with the time, money and fenced-in backyards to foster or adopt — and also for those who can donate — here’s an opportunity to do some permanent good.

It’ll be all hands — or should we say paws? — on deck for some time to come.

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Source : http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-chicago-foster-paws-animals-hurricane-0911-20170906-story.html

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