As Colorado grapples with flooding of historic proportions, questions have been raised on social media about what has happened to the many affected animals.
Who is rescuing them?
One photo taken by KUSA-9News showed a horse that appears to be tied to a fence in a field while floodwater surged nearly to its torso.
"How the heck does somebody evacuate and leave this horse tied up?" one person commented, setting off a string of responses.
As it turns out, the horse was later rescued. And across a vast water-logged area the size of Connecticut, a network of animal rescue organizations has swung into action as the disaster spread.
Among them is PetAid Disaster Services, part of the Denver-based PetAid Colorado, which is working with emergency management teams in Adams, Boulder, Jefferson and Larimer counties and the State Emergency Operations Center to monitor the massive flooding across the Front Range and assist as needed.
PetAid Colorado Disaster Services had boots on the ground earlier this summer during wildfires. It is performing a similar role now in the floods.
“PetAid Disaster Services exists to assist small and large animals who are in need of veterinary care or other services during an extremely stressful and emotional time in a person’s life,” said program director Debrah Schnackenberg.
“We work very collaboratively with all organizations and agencies involved in the disaster and are on-hand to provide resources and advice in regards to pet safety and wellness."
Another organization, the Special Operations Response Team (S.O.R.T.) of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, provides rescue services south of the Denver metro area. Some counties have similar groups.
Outside help has arrived, too. Today, the American Humane Association announced it has mobilized its Red Star rescue team and is working to help the animal victims of the disaster.
As part of a coordinated response to the flooding, Red Star was invited by Boulder County Animal Control to deploy as an approved responder to assist pets in need and to help provide emergency rescue operations. Red Star is on the scene working with Boulder County Animal Control and Code 3 Associates, a Longmont-based rescue organization that has responded to major events such as Hurricane Katrina.
“Floods are among the most terrifying and destructive of natural disasters,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, which until recently was based in Colorado. “Fortunately, our Red Star team is well-trained and well-qualified to handle this kind of emergency so that we may save lives and reunite families.”
Local animal shelters have swung into action, as well. Schnackenberg of PetAid Disaster Services released this list today:
Larimer Humane Society has evacuation capacity for Larimer County residents needing pet sheltering. Larimer Humane 6317 Kyle Ave, Fort Collins, CO 970-226-2968
Large Animal Sheltering for Larimer County - The Ranch Events Complex 5280 Arena Circle Loveland, CO 80538 Contact – Richard 970-566-3525
Boulder Valley Humane Society Has evacuation capacity for household pets. Boulder Valley Humane 2323 55th St. Boulder, CO 303-442-4030
Longmont Humane has evacuation capacity for household pets. Longmont Humane 9595 Nelson Rd Longmont, CO 303-772-1232
Adams County Animal Shelter Is holding reserved capacity for Commerce City and Adams County residents. Adams County Animal Shelter 10715 Fulton St Brighton, CO 80601, 303-288-3294
Foothills Animal Shelter has evacuation capacity for household pets. Foothills Animal Shelter 580 McIntye St Golden, CO 80401
In addition, Happy Tails Dog Ranch in Berthoud announced it is available to assist with emergency boarding. It can offer three days boarding for free, and then a 50 per cent discount going forward. All dogs will be taken, though their xnclusion in co-mingled playtimes will be determined by their suitability. Contact: (970) 532-4040
And of course, animal control agencies are hard at work.
American Humane Association is also offering these tips
BEFORE A FLOOD
-Microchip pets or put a tag on their collars with your name, address and cellphone number so they may be returned quickly in case you are separated from your pets.
-Prepare an emergency kit beforehand and evacuate your family and pets as early as you can along with, food, meds, water, leashes, and pets’ carrying cases.
-Plan multiple routes to higher elevations and a safe destination. Avoid routes near bridges. Have a safe walking route planned out, too.
-Make sure your animals are wearing collars and ID; take their vaccination papers and a photo in case you become separated and need to identify your pets if they are rescued to a shelter.
-Never leave children or pets home alone during a flood watch or warning. If water rises too fast you may not be able to get back to them.
-Don’t leave pets tethered or crated without you.
- If you can’t evacuate large animals, take them to high ground and do not tether them.
-Put ID on animals and as a last resort consider turning them out.
DURING A FLOOD
--Stay tuned to emergency channels and heed instructions. If you are in a flood watch area, never leave your children or pets at home alone.
Thanks for reading. If you would like to be notified about upcoming stories, click on the "subscribe" link above this article. It's free!