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My Pet World: How foster families help pets and their families after disasters

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

We live in Wisconsin, but would love to care for someone's dog from Hurricane Harvey until they get back on their feet. We have a two-year-old white German Shephard who is great with kids and other dogs. Please let us know how we can do this. -- Paul and DeAnne O., Wisconsin

Dear Paul and DeAnne,

It's very nice of you to want to help hurricane victims with their pets. When people are forced to evacuate their homes, they want to take their pets with them, but human shelters don't always accept pets. South Texas animal shelters learned these lessons after Hurricane Katrina and now line-up foster families and establish temporary shelters to take care of people's pets while families are displaced from their homes.

Sadly, some people are so overwhelmed or are displaced for so long they end up giving up their pets at some point. After a disaster, however, foster families play a vital role in caring for these pets for longer, which is comforting to displaced families who don't want to have to lose their pets too.

While I am not sure how you can foster a pet from so far away, you can call your local shelter to see if they are helping the region. The Humane Society of the United States has flown hundreds of dogs and cats who were strays or waiting for homes in Texas shelters (not people's pets) to animal shelters in Oregon, Washington, and New Jersey to free up space in shelters impacted by the hurricane to make room for more pets in need. Maybe your local shelter can take in some of the stray and homeless pets from the hurricane affected region that needs homes.

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You can also donate to animal shelters in Houston, Beaumont and south Texas impacted by the storm -- or animal shelters in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas who are providing direct care to evacuee pets. If I hear of any shelters looking for out-of-state foster families, you will be the first to know.

Dear Cathy,

My four-year-old male orange tabby cat has a taste for weird stuff. He eats plants, but particularly loves pineapple leaves. If he gets out, he'll run to eat grass and whatever plant he can find. I can't keep live plants in the house. Even worse, he eats strings and fabric, including my bathing suit straps and the fringes on my oriental rugs. I'm worried he'll wind up with an intestinal blockage. He's on a urinary diet and is only supposed to eat his special food. Any ideas? -- Linda L., Florida

Dear Linda,


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