WATCH: Houston Humane Society Makes Horrifying Announcement

The Humane Society is working hard to protect the innocent animals left stranded in the wake of Hurricane Harvey — but they need your help, too.

The Humane Society of the United Stated (HSUS) has announced that they have rescued 637 homeless pets since the onset of Hurricane Harvey. The shelter animals have been shipped out of state to ease the burden on the local emergency infrastructure. Hundreds, or even thousands, of other pets have been left behind by Texans fleeing the devastating storm. The humane society of Houston is urging people to take their pets with them when they evacuate.

“By taking homeless animals, we are relieving the burden on the in-state infrastructure, so the shelters can house animals dislocated from the storm and the flooding,” explained Wayne Pacelle, president of HSUS. “With the housing crisis, it’s going to mean that a lot of animals will need to be sheltered,” according to The Washington Examiner.

Pacelle explains that the Humane Society learned a great deal in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and they are applying these lessons to Hurricane Harvey.

The Humane Society had great difficulty reunited pets with their owners after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Immediately after the 2006 storm, the Humane Society updated their policies and pushed FEMA to recognize the importance of protecting animals in a disaster.

“Then and there, we vowed to change the legal framework to make sure that animals are not forgotten during disasters. We led the fight for the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS), and that law enacted in 2006 institutionalizes a concern for animals by local and state governments if they hope to get FEMA funds. The law is part of the explanation for the broader cultural awakening to the need to account for the needs of animals,” Pacelle explained.

“We are keeping the owned animals in state to allow for reunions and a lot of that has occurred,” said Pacelle. “Even if people’s homes are destroyed, they can get their animals and go to a relative’s home or a friend or to a shelter. And now the human shelters are allowing animals, generally speaking,” he added.

The Humane Society of Houston is working hard to shelter animals abandoned during the hurricane, but they also advise local residents to be prepared, and are urging them to “never ever leave your pet behind.”

In their guide for disaster preparedness, the Humane Society of Houston instructs pet owners to do their research, and to be prepared for the worst. Pet owners should do research in advance, and determine which rescue shelters accept pets, and which do not. They also recommend researching which out-of-town hotels and motels will accept pets in a time of crisis.

The Houston Humane Society also advises pet owners to microchip their pets, so that they can be identified in the aftermath of an emergency. Tags and collars can slip off — microchips are permanent. The Humane Society also recommends storing pet records in a watertight container, and to keep up-to-date pictures of pets so rescue efforts can help return them to their rightful owners.