BRIDGEWATER, NJ - With floodwaters raging through Texas following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, people are looking for ways to help those in need with shelter, food, water and other necessities – and some are taking care of the animals.
The Somerset Regional Animal Shelter in Bridgewater was one of many that welcomed displaced dogs from Texas after they were flown into Morristown Municipal Airport through St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center Tuesday.
"We started with an email from St. Hubert’s that they were working with Wings of Rescue and wanted to see if we would be interested in taking in some of the animals,” said shelter director Brian Bradshaw.
Bradshaw said they had just made room for about 30 cats from a hoarding case in the area, as well as another 31 cats and five dogs from a shelter in Newark, but they couldn’t say no to those in need.
“We were full, but we had to find space to help out Texas,” he said. “Even though we are very full, we still made space.”
Bradshaw said they took in eight dogs from Texas, and are willing to take in more in the future.
“We anticipate taking more as more space is made available,” he said. “This will be going on for a few weeks, if not for a few months.”
The shelter was also a safe haven for dogs after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“We also did rescue then, and it was a year-long endeavor,” he said.
Rose Tropeano-Digilio, assistant shelter director, said there have been a lot of questions about whether the dogs are being reunited with owners in Texas. She said that the animals flown to New Jersey and other states in the northeast were already in the shelter system and did not have owners.
Bradshaw said they are looking to adopt these animals out, but that they also have 30 other dogs that need to be adopted so they can make room for even more that need to be transported out of Texas and even Louisiana, where the hurricane is hitting next.
At this point, Bradshaw said, they are also looking for monetary donations to help with the medical care of the animals.
“These animals come in in all different kinds of conditions,” he said. “The medical budget has been stressed just helping out other local shelters and the cat hoarding case.”
Bradshaw said you never know what to expect when animals are flown in from a disaster site. First of all, he said, you don’t know if the dogs were running around on a farm in Texas or where they might have lived. Plus, he said, they might come off the airplane with a totally different temperament than when they boarded.
“It’s pretty scary on the plane and they might have been in the air for hours,” he said. “We can’t judge them at first, we have to let them settle in.”
“We don’t know about skin infections or parasites,” he added. “They will all be vaccinated for rabies and more, but we don’t know the extent of what else is going on.”
They will be looking for adoptive families for the animals, Bradshaw said, but they just need a couple days to make sure they are vaccinated and spayed/neutered.
Those wanting to help can send a donation to the shelter at 100 Commons Way, Bridgewater, NJ 08807. Monetary donations can also be submitted on the website at srasnj.org.
Bradshaw said they also have an Amazon wish list of items needed to care for the animals, and that is going to be updated soon.
Bradshaw said he knows the community will help as much as it can.
“We know our community will support us like we support the animals,” he said. “This is really showing America how it doesn’t matter where you are from, this is Americans helping other Americans.”
At this point, the shelter is asking for support from the public.
“Public support is key to helping us be able to help other families,” Tropeano-Digilio said. “Donations for medical care and more will help out the animals and make room for other animals that are probably going to be coming from Texas and other areas.”
“Louisiana was hit by this hurricane too, and we’ll help there too,” Bradshaw added. “We are animal lovers helping out other animal lovers.”