DALLAS - The old Reunion Arena parking garage is the place for reunions these days.
While nearly 3,000 evacuees from the hurricane-ravaged gulf coast continue to live in a shelter at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, the Reunion parking garage is a temporary home for their pets.
The SPCA of Texas and other organizations are now boarding 50 dogs, 9 cats, and 5 birds on two different levels in the parking garage. The animals get round-the-clock care, veterinary services, and the benefit of massive cooling fans to keep air circulating through their kennels.
And they get regular visits from their owners, who can visit at-will from across the street.
"Hey Stubby. Momma loves you,” Jamie McKee said as she and her husband, Lee, visited with their cats, Stubby and Spotsy, on Monday afternoon.
Days before, the couple from Nome near Beaumont had been evacuated with their animals and flown on a C-130 transport plane to Dallas. Now, while waiting on word of the fate of their home, they find comfort knowing their animals are safe too.
"I think it's great because I know they're taking care of them,” Jamie McKee said. "They've been really good. We appreciate everything they've done for us."
"These are people's babies. And they're all matched to people,” SPCA spokesperson Maura Davies said of the animals at the Reunion garage. “And we want folks to know that their pets are being cared for like they're our babies."
Meanwhile, on the west side of Dallas, in an overflow shelter run by the SPCA, 103 more dogs and cats are waiting to be adopted. These animals are ones who do not have owners but could certainly use one. Prior to the arrival of the hurricane, the SPCA helped transport animals out of Gulf Coast shelters to free up space for emergency operations in Houston and other cities and to get the animals to potentially more adoptable locations. The SPCA has helped transport animals as far away as Tulsa and Atlanta.
“We know lots of people who will be ready and able and looking for adding that forever companion to their family,” Davies said.
But back at the Reunion garage, owners have the chance to visit their babies every day, and know that they're being cared for.
"They're still in a little bit of shock I'm sure,” McKee said of her two cats. “They've been traumatized too.”
Trauma they can all get through better if they know they'll eventually be going home - together.
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