Hundreds of evacuees from Brazoria County began to arrive to the Bell County Expo Center late Sunday night and early Monday morning.
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For those evacuees with pets, a reference number and bracelet were assigned to the animal and owner. The animals were then sheltered about a quarter-mile down the road from the Expo Center at the Bell County Animal Control Shelter.
Thus far, the animal shelter has taken in 49 dogs, seven cats, three birds and two sugar gliders.
Bell County Animal Control Manager Tim Cook told Channel 6 any evacuees whose pets were sheltered in the facility are more than welcome to visit their animals.
“We told (the pet owners) from the beginning, anytime you want to come see the animals, the shelter is open,” Cook said.
Normally, the Bell County Animal Control Shelter is open from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For evacuees only, the animal shelter is extending its hours an extra 30 minutes to 4 p.m.
In fact, numerous Brazoria evacuees stopped by the shelter to pay their fur babies a visit.
“The reunions we saw here today… they were tear jerkers," Cook said. "People were sitting in here with their dogs, the dogs were crying and they were crying. It was very emotional.”
Many of the animals seemed scared and others, confused.
Cook said as of Tuesday morning, evacuees based in Killeen are being allowed to bring their pets with them. As a result, two families who were already processed to the Killeen evacuee shelter came to the Bell County Animal Control center and pulled their dogs.
The Bell County Animal Control Shelter has not reached capacity, but are carefully monitoring the number of animals it shelters.
In efforts to monitor shelter space, Cook reached out to neighboring animal shelters in Bell County on Tuesday. Cook said thus far, the City Of Temple Animal Services Department offered space for 10 dogs and 10 cats, and the Harker Heights Pet Adoption Center offered space for 10 dogs and 15 cats.
The corresponding shelters in Bell County will talk with its respective city councils to determine any additional space allowed for evacuees' animals, Cook added.
Cook said any evacuees that would like to transfer their pet to another animal shelter in the area may do so if they get approval from the other shelter first. Therefore, if an evacuee in Killeen or Harker Heights would like to transfer his or her pet to a closer animal shelter, i.e. the Harker Heights Pet Adoption Center, said evacuee must get approval from the Harker Heights Pet Adoption Center first.
The Bell County Animal Control Shelter is accepting donations, including but not limited to, dog and cat food to feed the animals, as well as dawn dish soap, bleach, and high efficiency detergent for cleaning purposes.