Here's One Way You Can Help Hurricane Harvey Victims: Foster a Pet

SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it’s estimated that at least 30,000 Texans have been rendered homeless and forced into temporary shelters. While rain continues to fall as the tropical storm moves along the Gulf of Mexico, many people are wondering what they can do to help. If you’re a pet lover with some extra space in your home, why not consider fostering one of the thousands of pets who’ve been displaced because of the storm?

By being proactive, Texas nonprofit Austin Pets Alive! was able to transport more than 235 animals to its facility—and out of harm’s way—by Saturday morning. But, according to the organization's website, “there is still a lot of work ahead of us. As we continue to care for the animals we have already saved, we have to prepare for even more animals who will need us in the coming days. We’ve been receiving reports from shelter partners in areas hit hardest by the hurricane and areas expecting the most flooding that over the course of the next 24 to 72 hours, they are anticipating another significant influx of animals that they may not be able to help.”

In addition to donations of money and pet supplies like litter boxes and leashes, APA is looking for foster parents who can commit to keeping a pet through adoption, a process that includes meeting with potential adopters, taking photos of the pet, and generally spreading the word about the ball of fuzz you're sharing your home with. Visit the organization’s website to find out about their current needs, and email foster@austinpetsalive.org if you’re able to assist.

Texas isn’t the only place where shelters are lending a helping hand. In Davenport, Iowa, King’s Harvest Pet Rescue is asking people to open their homes to displaced dogs, with the shelter providing all of the necessary supplies, including food, beds, and treats.

In Tenafly, New Jersey, Robyn Urman—founder of Pet ResQ—is working to transport 200 cats and dogs from Texas to the Garden State. On Tuesday morning, more than a dozen pets arrived in New Jersey, with another 60 expected this week. (Potential fosters can email petresqinc@aol.com.)

Not all of the animals being transported were directly affected by Harvey. On Monday morning, Wings of Rescue flew 105 animals—20 dogs and 85 cats—from Louisiana to California to make more room in local shelters in the south. In Georgia, the Atlanta Humane Society began making room for pets in the path of the hurricane so that Texas shelters would have as much space as possible to care for affected animals. “They reached out to us and we're happy to help,” Atlanta shelter manager Amanda Harris told WSB-TV. “So they can be close to their owners and have the best possible chance to be reunited with their families.”

Even if you don’t have the ability to foster a pet, there are plenty of other ways to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, from donating diapers to giving blood.

Meet LiLou: The World's First Airport Therapy Pig

Kseniia Derzhavina/iStock via Getty Images
Kseniia Derzhavina/iStock via Getty Images

There's a new reason to get to the airport early—you might run into a therapy pig who's there to make your trip a little easier. As Reuters reports, LiLou the Juliana pig is a member of San Francisco International Airport's "Wag Brigade," a therapy animal program designed to ease stress and anxiety in travelers.

Aside from her snout and potbelly, LiLou can be recognized by her captain's hat and red "hoof" polish. She spends the day with guests who are happy to take a break from the pressures of traveling. She might comfort them by posing for a selfie, playing a song on her toy keyboard, or offering them a head to pet.

After bringing joy to people's day, LiLou goes home to her San Francisco apartment where she lives with her owner, Tatyana Danilova. In her free time, she goes on daily walks and snacks on organic vegetables. She even has her own Instagram account.

Airports around the world are embracing the benefits therapy animals can bring to customers. The Wag Brigade program at San Francisco includes a number of dogs, and earlier this year, the Aberdeen Airport in Scotland debuted its own "canine crew" of dogs trained to make travelers feel safe and happy. Therapy miniature horses have even been used at an airport in Kentucky. According to the San Francisco Airport, LiLiou is the world's first airport therapy pig.

To see LiLou turn on the charm, check out the video below.

[h/t Reuters]

Sssspectacular: Tree Snakes in Australia Can Actually Jump

sirichai_raksue/iStock via Getty Images
sirichai_raksue/iStock via Getty Images

Ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes, is common among humans. We avoid snakes in the wild, have nightmares about snakes at night, and recoil at snakes on television. We might even be born with the aversion. When researchers showed babies photos of snakes and spiders, their tiny pupils dilated, indicating an arousal response to these ancestral threats.

If you really want to scare a baby, show them footage of an Australian tree snake. Thanks to researchers at Virginia Tech, we now know these non-venomous snakes of the genus Dendrelaphis can become airborne, propelling themselves around treetops like sentient Silly String.

That’s Dendrelaphis pictus, which was caught zipping through the air in 2010. After looking at footage previously filmed by her advisor Jake Socha, Virginia Tech Ph.D. candidate Michelle Graham headed for Australia and built a kind of American Ninja Warrior course for snakes out of PVC piping and tree branches. Graham observed that the snakes tend to spot their landing target, then spring upward. The momentum gets them across gaps that would otherwise not be practical to cross.

Graham next plans to investigate why snakes feel compelled to jump. They might feel a need to escape, or continue moving, or do it because they can. Two scientific papers due in 2020 could provide answers.

Dendrelaphis isn’t the only kind of snake with propulsive capabilities. The Chrysopelea genus includes five species found in Southeast Asia and China, among other places, that can glide through the air.

[h/t National Geographic]

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