A storm of this magnitude, with its unprecedented levels of rain and flooding, affects many animals in addition to our companion dogs and cats. There is great concern for cows and other livestock whose lives are threatened by the rising waters.
Animals that might not first come to mind as hurricane victims are affected also. This video, based on reporting by KXAS/NBC Dallas’ Brian Curtis, shows an exhausted and trembling opossum resting on a bridge in downtown Houston.
Apparently, this opossum was not taken to shelter. It is uplifting, though, to see how many other animals have been rescued.
Here are just a few of my favorite examples.
Perhaps the most famous non-pet rescue, so far, is of a hawk who has been named Harvey. Harvey climbed into a taxicab to shelter from the storm — and a video of this went viral. Harvey, seen in another video wearing a tail guard, is now being cared for by staff of the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, who are assessing his injuries and believe he wouldn’t have survived the storm without rescue.
A woman identified as Alicia Plunkett was filmed by Jason Allen of Dallas’ CBS station as she saved bats in danger of drowning.
The fire department of College Station, Texas, posted a video of its rescue of a horse stranded by Harvey floodwaters.
Videos like these help remind us to widen our circle of compassion in natural disasters.
For those of us able to make a donation to help human victims displaced by Hurricane Harvey, the idea of also sending funds along to animal rescue organizations is a good one.
The work of first responders and “regular” people who are stepping up to help in Harvey’s wake — with both human and nonhuman rescues — is evidence of courage and compassion.
Barbara J. King is an anthropology professor emerita at the College of William and Mary. She often writes about the cognition, emotion and welfare of animals, and about biological anthropology, human evolution and gender issues. Barbara’s new book is Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat. You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape