Demand Houston SPCA Save Hurricane Harvey Animals

By Best Friends Animal Society

Update: We want to be clear that our call to action regarding the HSPCA has nothing to do with the totally unsubstantiated rumors that have been floating around the internet that the HSPCA is killing animals in Beaumont. 

The wild he-said-she-said gossip began on the evening of the 2nd as the HSPCA took over the management of the temporary animal shelter at the Ford Center. Best Friends has not, and is not accusing the HSCPA of killing animals during the storm or the chaos immediately following.

Our concern has always been, and still is, the long-term commitment to the animals. 

Yesterday the Best Friends Animal Society team on the ground in Texas arrived in Beaumont. Beaumont is one of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Harvey and is struggling to provide basic services – the entire community lost access to clean water. The animals rescued from the area were being housed at a pavilion-type shelter set up at the Ford Center. The reports from our team on the ground late yesterday were that the animals were in dire need of basic medical care, and the heat was taking its toll.

The Houston SPCA obtained the memorandum of understanding (MOU) from local officials to serve as the small animal lead at the Ford Center. That’s when the rumors began to swirl.

The Houston SPCA has a history of a lack of transparency around consistent reporting regarding the outcomes for the animals entering their care.  They have questionable policies regarding pit bull type dogs and have received continued criticism from the animal welfare community around these policies. So it’s understandable that the rescue community and other pet-loving members of the public, aware of the Houston SPCA’s history, would be worried about what was taking place with the pets in Beaumont.

We contacted the Houston SPCA and spoke with the organization’s President, Patti Mercer. Knowing the Houston SPCA is already stretched thin from their necessary work in Houston, Best Friends offered to relieve them of the responsibility in Beaumont and take over the MOU to provide care and reunion efforts for the animals rescued in  Beaumont. This offer was denied. 

We then offered assistance and general help for the animals of Beaumont to the Houston SPCA, but this offer for help was also declined. While Ms. Mercer did verbally commit to at least a 30 day hold for the animals of Beaumont to be reunited with their owners, our attempts to determine if there would be an adoption guarantee for these animals regardless of where they might be transferred failed – we were told by Ms. Mercer to wait for a “press release” and she was unwilling to put anything in writing to us. The list of possible receiving agencies for these animals that she cited are not known for their commitment to no-kill policies. 

We detailed the expectations Best Friends has set for ourselves for animals we rescue from this storm, and asked the Houston SPCA to commit to the same, in writing.

  • Minimum 30-day stray hold so owners can reunite with their pets
  • Proactive pursuit of families and reunion of all pets displaced by Harvey
  • A clear, transparent operation that offers an appropriate standard of care
  • A guarantee for a positive outcome for all animals rescued. In other words, that all the animals in Beaumont are either reunited with their families; adopted into a loving home; or are transferred to an agency who will guarantee a no-kill outcome
  • Sharing of raw data so that the above points can be audited and confirmed by interested parties

Ms. Mercer refused to put these simple commitments and procedures in writing, and again she referred us to a yet-to-be-made press release. We advised her that her personal word in writing to us would do more to allay the public’s concerns than a press release, but again Ms. Mercer declined. Without this in writing, Best Friends does not feel comfortable with what is happening in Beaumont, or anywhere else the Houston SPCA is rescuing pets.

Whether it is a time of disaster or not, organizations that rescue animals need to be held accountable by the communities they serve. Best Friends is committed to help the animals of Texas, and will not back down. 

Please click here to sign a petition to hold Houston SPCA to these simple life saving guarantees.

Help save the pets in Hurricane Harvey. People are risking their lives to rescue Harvey pets, yet some may go to shelters where they may be killed.

As is often the case when talking about animal welfare organizations, there is confusion regarding the relationship between the Houston SPCA and other SPCAs, including the national organization, the ASPCA. While these organizations share the SPCA moniker, they are separate organizations with their own 501(c)(3) designation, boards, leadership, policies and so forth. The Houston SPCA is an independent organization and should not be confused with any other animal welfare organization.



Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society