Utah’s Best Friends Animal Society helping pets after Hurricane Harvey

Posted at 9:44 PM, Aug 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-30 23:46:20-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Many are seeing the devastation in Texas first hand, people losing everything and trying simply to survive the storm.

“The only word that keeps coming to my mind is devastating, it's devastating what's going on. The scale of the destruction is incredible,” said Eric Rayvid, who is the PR Director for Best Friends Animal Society.

Among those fleeing Harvey’s floodwaters are countless pets, and volunteers from around the country, including here in Utah, are rushing to help the animals in need.

Best Friends Animal Society is based in Kanab. The group has six people from Utah in Texas and right now they have nearly a dozen more on the way.

In the storm there are times when there’s just no room for the animals on the boats and they have to be left behind. That’s where organizations like Best Friends are stepping in.

“We are currently about to get in the water just west of Houston,” John Garcia said.

Garcia is from Kanab, Utah and is the emergency manager for the Best Friends Animal Society.

“We’re just gearing up right now," Garcia said. "The storm has let up a little bit. So we have our zodiac boats getting pumped up, we have our boats getting ready. We’re ready to go and we’re ready to save some lives.”

But what these crews are seeing on the water is devastating.

“It's heartbreaking, it's heart wrenching, it's one of the worst things you can imagine,” Rayvid said.

The volunteers are finding dogs abandoned in crates and pets scurrying on top of cars as well as others who have to be pulled from rivers.

“Our teams are certified to breach houses if we need to, but we're seeing them on rooftops, we're seeing them swimming in the water, we're seeing them on the edges of the water too,” Rayvid said.

The number of animals they're rescuing is staggering.

“We're probably going to be seeing today alone probably between 1,000 to 2,000 animals,” Rayvid said.

From cats and dogs to horses.

“We know it's only going to get worse from here, we know from Katrina that when the flood waters recede, that's when the hard works starts,” Rayvid said.

The crews from Utah say they'll stay in Texas until the work is done.

“As horrific as it is we are definitely wanting to help out and do whatever we can to save them all,” Garcia said.

Volunteers think this could be an even larger rescue than Katrina, where they rescued 6,000 animals. If you want to donate to their efforts, click here.