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Houston's raining cats and dogs

Hotels, resorts relaxing policies for the influx of four-legged friends
By SALATHEIA BRYANT

Houston kennels, shelters and swanky downtown hotels relaxed their policies Monday, opening their doors to cats and canines displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

In the lobby of the downtown Hilton Americas hotel, a Great Dane, a poodle and a hound dog milled about the lobby with their owners who fled Hurricane Katrina's wrath. The grassy area across from the hotel became a potty pit and barking wafted up to other floors.

"They were barking this morning," said hotel spokeswoman Anna Drake, who estimated more than 100 animals, including birds, hamsters and rabbits, were now guests at the hotel.

"There are dogs throughout our lobby kind of hanging out with their owners. It's a zoo here."

Although the hotel normally accepts pets with a pet deposit, officials dismissed the 40-pound weight limit restriction.

Pets were as much a part of the exodus from Louisiana as people Sunday, with owners walking dogs along freeway medians leading out of New Orleans, and crates as common as child safety seats in cars.

Going to a resort
New Orleans resident Anthony Nguyen, 22, wasn't leaving home without his seven fluffy Pomeranians: three adults and four puppies. He sat in a lawn chair Monday afternoon outside an American Red Cross shelter at the Baytown Community Center.

"They'll be fine," he said of the dogs as they drank bottled water in the shade of the trees. "They're resilient."

The phone calls started at the Prestonwood Kennels Pet Resort the moment it opened for business early Sunday morning and hadn't stopped Monday. The lobby was filled with sleep-deprived pet owners who had lodging at nearby motels but needed a place to house their four-legged family members.

Resort owner Guinnette Peebles turned her two-car, air-conditioned garage into expanded kennel space for about 20 dogs kept in crates. If space runs out there, Peebles says she'll start stacking crates in her kitchen.

"These people are devastated; they have no place to go. We're seeing a lot of people in a bind coming up this way," she said of the five-acre resort, which has provided refuge in the past for Floridians."You just have to be able to help these people. They're handing you their well-loved pet. You can't turn them away."

Peebles said they are relaxing shot-record rules because many of the residents didn't have time to bring records with them, and there was no way to confirm records with veterinarians back home.
 

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Awww....it's heartwarming to hear what people are doing.... Pets aren't just pets, but apart of the family, and I'm glad there are people out there that understand that.
 

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It's so good to hear a story like that.. Some of my friends had to leave New Orleans before the hurricane hit and they had a horrible experience everywhere they stopped along the way with their dog. They were kicked out of almost every place they stopped (in Texas) despite telling their story. Luckily they were able to eventually find a place to stay after being turned away at most hotels.
 

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That is a great story thanks for sharing it, so heartwarming to see people open their hearts to our furry friends and their families.

I saw something very moving this morning myself on the CNN news that brought tears to my eyes.

The Recue Helicpter had just air lifted an elderly lady to safety from the roof of her home. I saw them take her from the helicopter in a little crate and gently place her on solid ground and it wasn't till I saw them gently lift her tiny little doggie from her arms so she could get up that I began to cry. They said the only reason she stayed in her home through the storm was to be with her little dog to keep him safe because he is all she has, and there was nowhere for her to go to get to safety with her pet.
I can imagine there are scores of stories just like that one and to see the devestation down there in those areas is just heart wrenching.
The American Red Cross is calling for all those who can afford to donate to do so as they are going to need all the help they can get to help feed, medicate, clothe and house these poor unfortunate people.
We made our donation on line this morning, it is the least we can do, and we know that if everyone who can help does it will be of great assistance in the caring for the many homeless and needy people because of this horrific storm.
 

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There should be a Federal Law allowing pets to stay in hotels, motels, shelters, etc. during natural disasters. It might lead to more people evacuating their homes and thus lessen the loss of life. JMHO
 
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