Texans refuse to leave pets behind as they flee Harvey

HOUSTON, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Many Texans grabbed not only their valuables but also the dogs, cats, birds and other pets as they fled the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Harvey.

"It seems like everyone coming off a boat is carrying a dog or cat," said Monica Schmidt, a manager for the Houston Humane Society.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, rescue officials have stressed the importance of evacuees bringing their pets because in New Orleans some people refused to leave for fear of abandoning their animals. Authorities had to include pets in federal guidelines for disaster planning, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

SEE ALSO: Here's how you can help those seeking aid and relief after Hurricane Harvey

But on Sunday night that caused confusion and anger outside Houston's convention center, which has become a large shelter.

Dozens of people with dogs arrived only to be told they could not bring them inside or that animal services were not available to care for their pets. That included Rosana Nagera, 27, who took shifts with her husband in the rain with their shivering dog.

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Animals being rescued during Hurricane Harvey
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Animals being rescued during Hurricane Harvey
A man carries a dog after being rescued from rising floodwaters due to Hurricane Harvey in Spring, Texas, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. A deluge of rain and rising floodwaters left�Houston�immersed and helpless,�crippling a global center of the oil industry and testing the economic resiliency of a state thats home to almost 1 in 12 U.S. workers. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A boy hugs his grandmothers' dog after being rescued from rising floodwaters due to Hurricane Harvey in Spring, Texas, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. A deluge of rain and rising floodwaters left�Houston�immersed and helpless,�crippling a global center of the oil industry and testing the economic resiliency of a state thats home to almost 1 in 12 U.S. workers. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 27: Volunteers and officers from the neiborhood security patrol help to rescue residents and their dogs in the upscale River Oaks neighborhood after it was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 27 2017: Elma Moreno comforts her dog, Simon as they are loaded on to a trucks after being evacuated from their flooded apartment. Tropical Storm Harvey is causing major flooding throughout Houston and Southeast Texas. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A man carries a dog after being rescued from rising floodwaters due to Hurricane Harvey at the Highland Glen housing development in Spring, Texas, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. A deluge of rain and rising floodwaters left�Houston�immersed and helpless,�crippling a global center of the oil industry and testing the economic resiliency of a state thats home to almost 1 in 12 U.S. workers. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bentley, a 10 year old maltese, takes refuge with his owner in a school after they lost their home to Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S. August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Pets are evacuated from flood waters from Hurricane Harvey in Dickinson, Texas August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
People and their pets are rescued from flood waters from Hurricane Harvey on a boat in Dickinson, Texas August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Kenneth and Minnie Bice prepare to sleep outside the M.O. Campbell Red Cross shelter in Aldine, Texas, United States August 28, 2017. Pets are not allowed inside and so the two are sleeping on the portico with their two dogs and a cat. REUTERS/Peter Henderson
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 27: Residents carry their pets and belongings along Mercury Drive as they flee flood water at their homes in Houston, TX on Sunday, Aug 27, 2017. Rising water from Hurricane Harvey pushed thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground Sunday in Houston. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Flood victims move crates with pets at a shelter in the George R. Brown Convention Center during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Rescue teams in boats, trucks and helicopters scrambled Monday to reach hundreds of Texans marooned on flooded streets in and around the city of Houston before monster storm Harvey returns. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People check in with their pets to a shelter in the George R. Brown Convention Center during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Rescue teams in boats, trucks and helicopters scrambled Monday to reach hundreds of Texans marooned on flooded streets in and around the city of Houston before monster storm Harvey returns. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Evacuation residence from the Meyerland area are loaded onto a truck on an I-610 overpass during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Evacuation residents from the Meyerland wait on an I-610 overpass for further help during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: People make their way out of a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water, remnants of Hurricane Harvey, on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in areas of Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Evacuees make their way to dry land after leaving their homes that were inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A vet holds a dog at a shelter in the George R. Brown Convention Center during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Rescue teams in boats, trucks and helicopters scrambled Monday to reach hundreds of Texans marooned on flooded streets in and around the city of Houston before monster storm Harvey returns. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: People evacuate their homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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On Monday morning pets were welcomed in a designated area at the facility, where dogs nestled next to owners on cots. Red Cross officials said evacuees with pets are welcome at its shelters, and animals are typically housed in cages on site or accommodated by partner organizations.

Houston's BARC Animal Shelter on Monday set up a trailer to help house displaced pets at one site that wasn't allowing pets inside, it said on its Facebook page.

As authorities grappled with a growing number of residents arriving at shelters with pets, the storm continued to threaten thousands of other animals.

Animal rescue groups, many unable to reach affected areas because of flooding and blocked roads, said it would take days before the full toll emerged.

During Katrina, an estimated 250,000 dogs and cats were displaced or died, according to the ASPCA.

"We'll find that there are many losses after the waters recede," Jennifer Williams, president of the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society in Texas, said Monday of the Houston flooding.

"I'm seeing stories on Facebook of stranded horses, and horses being pulled out of flooded stalls," she added.

Hundreds of animals in shelters from Corpus Christi to La Porte, Texas were evacuated ahead of the storm, some sent as far away as Atlanta.

The Humane Society in Houston's 300-animal shelter will transfer existing animals to other locations after waters recede so it can take in expected surge in stray animals, officials said.

The national Humane Society on Monday dispatched a rescue team to hard-hit Texas City.

"They're getting so many calls for animal rescue and response," said Katie Jarl, Texas state director for the Humane Society of the United States. "It's people who stayed behind with their animals, people who left them and now want someone to check on them, and reports of animals chained in backyards."

On social media and television, the plight of animals was shared widely, including a story about a man carrying two puppies in a cooler over high water and an abandoned dog found tied to a pole surrounded by water that was later rescued.

At the Houston Zoo, located near a medical center that was evacuated, some animal enclosure moats were filled with water but animals were all inside and safe, officials said. A crew of 30 people remained at the zoo to ensure the safety of its 6,000 animals. (Reporting and writing by Chris Kenning in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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