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Houston-area pet lovers rush to rescue after tornado ravages Pasadena Animal Shelter

Most of the 150-plus dogs and cats that were at the shelter when it was hit by Tuesday’s tornado had been taken in by others as of late Wednesday morning.

Pasadena Animal Shelter Tornado Damage
Lisa Tynan
The Pasadena Animal Shelter was damaged by a tornado on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023.

Lisa Tynan arrived at the Pasadena Animal Shelter at 5 p.m. Tuesday – about two hours after a tornado ripped the roof off a kennel building while dogs were inside.

She saw the telltale signs of a tornado, such as collapsed structures and scattered debris, as well as scared, startled looks on the faces of more than 100 animals. Tynan also saw a crowd of fellow pet lovers who had beaten her there.

"There were already dozens of people there helping, which was beautiful to see," said Tynan, the marketing and special events specialist for Houston PetSet, which advocates for homeless dogs and cats in the area. "The animal welfare community is really a great communicating community, so there was a really quick response."

Animal rescue groups and advocacy organizations from across the region sprang into action after the Pasadena Animal Shelter was one of several buildings damaged by a tornado that touched down Tuesday afternoon in the Southeast Houston suburb as well as in nearby Deer Park and Pearland. The tornado caused at least EF-2 damage, or considerable damage, according to an initial survey Wednesday by the National Weather Service.

The municipal shelter reported in a Tuesday night Facebook post that it would be temporarily closed because of the building damage and a lack of electricity, phone service and running water, adding that all of its animals and staffers managed to make it through the storm OK. The Pasadena Animal Shelter also expressed gratitude to individual fosters and rescues as well as organizations such as Houston PetSet and the Houston SPCA, among many others, for taking in most of the dogs and cats that it housed.

Tynan said 170 dogs and cats were at the facility when the tornado blew through, and all but 23 of them had been placed elsewhere as of late Wednesday morning. The Houston SPCA took in 27 cats, with assistance from Harris County Pets, while Houston PetSet partnered with Lola's Lucky Day to take in 12 dogs.

Pasadena Animal Shelter Displaced Dogs
Lisa Tynan
A group of dogs displaced by tornado damage at the Pasadena Animal Shelter wait to be transported to other locations on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023.

"I'm sure the folks at the Pasadena Animal Shelter, they've got a lot on their minds," said Julie Kuenstle, the vice president of communications for the Houston SPCA. "We're thinking of them and were more than happy to help out and take in these animals and allow them to be available for adoptions. We are one of many organizations that just stepped in and stepped up."

The Houston Humane Society is among the other organizations to take in some of the displaced dogs and cats, according to Tynan. Bayou Animal Services & Adoption Center in Dickinson, the City of La Porte Adoption Center & Animal Shelter and the Mount Pleasant Avenue Premier Canine Villas & Spa in League City also are housing some of the animals, according to their posts on social media.

The Pasadena Animal Shelter wrote on its Facebook page that those interested in housing the remaining animals can email foster-rescue@pasadenatx.gov.

"Truck after truck has been loaded with our cats and dogs," the shelter wrote. "They have been such a light on a tough afternoon and evening."

With the Pasadena shelter closed for the time being, Tynan encouraged anyone who encounters stray dogs or cats in that part of the Houston area to consider temporarily housing them while the shelter recovers. Another option would be to seek the services of other nearby shelters or rescue groups.

Kuenstle and Tynan both said the Houston area has become well-versed in coping with natural disasters and coming to the aid of fellow community members – whether those in need are people or pets.

"All of the animals did survive, which is really quite amazing considering the state that building is in," Tynan said. "Fortunately, it looks like there will be a place for all of them to go."

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