It’s a familiar mantra here in Houston during freeze season: “protect your people, pipes, plants, and pets.” But sadly, there are many who don’t heed the warning about pets — often with deadly results.
Addressing that issue in advance of this week’s icy forecast, Houstonians belonging to four local pet organizations have built and distributed nearly 120 new homes for dogs and cats. The shelters have been delivered free of charge to low-income pet owners in Houston — and parts of Montgomery County — for animals who live outside to escape the elements.
Some 80 homes were delivered to Montgomery County, while 32 homes were distributed to Kashmere Gardens, Third Ward, and Acres Homes. The effort was led by umbrella organization Houston PetSet, which acts as a conduit with local animal nonprofits. Volunteers with Animal Justice League, Pup Squad, and Houston Huts for Mutts, delivered the custom homes to local residents, who received them with “overwhelming gratitude,” Houston PetSet co-president Tama Lundquist tells CultureMap.
“Many of these dogs spend their entire lives outside on a chain or confined in someone’s backyard with little to no shelter. When Houston sees extreme weather conditions, these dogs have nowhere to escape the elements, and may not survive.”
While it could seem heartless to leave an animal out in the cold, Lundquist sees it more of a challenge of means. “What we’ve found in these neighborhoods ravaged by poverty is that they’re not bad people,” she says. “Many do not have the economic resources, or education, to provide their pets. They love them — they just don’t have the means to care for them. Some of these people don’t even have running water.”
Lundquist says that a majority of the residents who received pet shelters have multiple animals — many that were pulled from the streets, with the best intentions. “It’s heartwarming when you think of the animals who don’t have protection from the rain and snow,” she says. She now hopes to turn her attention to homeless strays, who have little protection against the elements. “They hunker down, they try to find shelter under a bush or bridge,” says Lundquist. “They do they best they can. But for us, for them, there’s still work to be done.”
For now, at least, hundreds of lucky animals have a new home, thanks to the work of some pet-loving Houstonians.