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Hurricane-Hit Pets Seek New Homes

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Hurricane-Hit Pets Seek New Homes

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Hurricane-Hit Pets Seek New Homes

Hurricane-Hit Pets Seek New Homes

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Hundreds of pets from the hurricane-struck Gulf Coast have been brought to the Houston SPCA for safekeeping. The agency has set up a foster-care program. People can keep a pet for 10 days, or forever if the pet's owner doesn't show up.

: some pets abandoned but not yet reunited with their owners. NPR's Noah Adams reports from a shelter in Houston, where pets arrived after the storm.

NOAH ADAMS: And they kept on arriving, about a hundred a day. Here's a new truckload just in from Galveston.

U: A very large, heavy cat.

U: All right, here's our workout.

ADAMS: The truck backs up to the Houston SPCA, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Volunteers are waiting with plastic dog and cat crates. A pungent smell rolls out when the truck's rear door is opened. And the animals emerge one by one.

U: One bird?

ADAMS: The cats are first, and parrots, and a ferret, lonely in a gaudy cage, then a pelican. These are animals that have been found in Galveston, taken to a collection point to wait for the next truck.

: Our team is a technical animal-rescue team. Our people are firefighters, police officers, animal-control officers who all have human and animal search-and-rescue skills.

ADAMS: Kay Mayfield is running this operation for a nonprofit called Code 3 Associates out of Colorado. She's working with volunteers from San Diego, St. Louis, other cities. Plenty from Texas.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)

ADAMS: And out of the truck, the dogs come last. The pit bull is looking scared. Smaller dogs are carried. One has a rhinestone collar. All the animals will be cleaned up, identified if possible, photographed for the Web site. That's where their owners might find them. There's a new pet-evacuation law in effect in this country. It's new since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. When storms threaten, pets are to be regarded as family. You can take your dog or cat on that last bus out of town. But hundreds and hundreds of animals somehow remained on Galveston Island. Mira Nanlow(ph) of the Houston shelter staff.

: They were found locked in homes. They were found wandering the streets. Some were found with no food or water. Some were found tied to poles.

ADAMS: The Houston SPCA has set up an after-hurricane foster-care program. Come by and fill out a form, walk back through the cages, find an animal you'd like to take home for 10 days. If the owner is found, everybody's happy. If not, then you can think about adopting. Nohm Hari(ph), who spent the morning washing dogs, says it's a quick turnover.

: We're getting dogs - sometimes a dog will come in on one shipment, and they'll be fostered out as soon as they're processed.

ADAMS: The staff of the shelter got ready fast for the storm. They had a generator, food, water. Some don't have power yet at home. But the shelter has finished pushing its limits and now has to turn away dogs from Houston.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG SCREAMING)

ADAMS: That's a dog screaming, a small, black dog in a crate up on a counter. The dog was brought in by Danielle Conley(ph). She hauled it out of a Dumpster.

: He looks like he's been out for a while, so who knows what he's been in. He looks oily and dirty and - but a little dog, so I can't leave him.

ADAMS: Danielle Conley will have to go elsewhere, she's told. Too many animals from Galveston. This Houston shelter for this found dog is full. Noah Adams, NPR News, Houston.

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