Best Friends Blog

Demand Houston SPCA Save Hurricane Harvey Animals

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.

  • Kathy O’Sullivan Curry

    I just don’t understand why they would refuse the help that was offered more than once!!!

  • tokillamockingbirdfromtexas

    Thank You!

    No one seems to be asking about all of the Harvey Owner Surrendered pets. Those that Harvey victims are having to sureender their beloved pets due to various tragic circumstances. These pets have zero protection under the Displaced Pet law with a mandatory 30 day hold. They can be pulled, fostered, adopted…or euth immediately since the owner is known and has given away their pet.

    Since HSPCA’s regular policy is to treat every BSB as ‘vicious’ therefore they never allow any pitties, rotties, chows etc to be pulled, adopted or fostered but kills them upon intake is that what they are doing to Harvey Owner Surrendered?!?

    Good for you for going to them with these easy, transparent requests and for making it public.


  • Amanda

    Best Friends, Some actors from the CW are raising money for texas, they have quite a sum and have chosen Texas SPCA as one to receive money I have tweeted them the change org and this page but it might help to get their attention to have more get in contact with them. the 3 main ones are Jensen Ackles @jensenackles Jared Padalecki @Jarpad and Misha Collins @mishacollins they all have a instragram and facebook pages. I don’t want the money going to the SPCA if this is they way they are, you might off them some suggestions

  • Mike

    Tomlinson’s, an Austin area pet food store, is offering to match customers’ donations 1:1 up to $10,000 with money going to Houston SCPA and one other organization:

    “Through September 10th, all Tomlinson’s stores will accept monetary donations to be sent to The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund by the Greater Houston Community Foundation and the Houston SPCA.”

    I just donated a few hours ago! I wish I read this notice earlier. Best Friends or Austin Pets Alive would’ve been a better choice for Tomlinson’s.

  • Maria Thirsk

    Shameful! Let’s make this blow up on social media and demand change!

  • Debbie Holcomb

    So who originally obtained the Ford Center for emergency housing of these animals?. And who is it that gave HSPCA the right to walk in and talk over? Names, emails, and phone numbers need to be posted.

    • jondunn


      In emergency response situations, the authority to manage these types of sheltering operations are given through an MOU with the local community. In this case, it’s Jefferson County, Texas.

  • Anna Pierson

    Thank you for your commitment to the animals. Please continue to keep the public informed of the Houston SPCA and any other agencies which are obtaining these animals.

  • Jackie Noone

    The SPCA is an organization which the public relies on to protect animals from any unnecessary forms of abuse. With so many displaced animals affected by Hurricane Harvey ..actions and response were in question when they took over MOU in BEAUMONT AT THE Ford Center 9/3/17.. Questions were raised about by outside animal interest groups inquiring into the follow up care of these animals…the response was dismissive and non cooperative raising quite a few eyebrows on social media. I agree with Best Friends and support this petition. The public has a right to ensure these animals receuve the best outcome after such trauma from these events.

  • Kim Janzen

    Best Friends, you should be ashamed of yourselves for posting and perpetuating this nonsense. At the very time animal welfare organizations should be banding together to save the lives of desperate animals, you choose to do the most divisive, inflammatory, and truly despicable thing a (formerly reputable) organization could do. Disgusting.

    • jondunn


      We would love to “band together” and we tried. We offered help to the Houston SPCA and we told no, as we clearly state in the post.

      If trying to save lives is despicable, then we will wear that badge proudly.

      Jon Dunn
      Best Friends Animal Society

      • Jackie B

        Can you please stop throwing the Houston SPCA under the bus, isn’t BF getting enough donations or WHAT?

    • Barb Logan

      Aren’t you Charles Jantzen’s wife? Gee, that would make your comment very biased, don’t you think? Best Friends offered help and were rebuffed and Mercer refuses to guarantee the safety of the dogs. Not very transparent, is she?

    • Linda Swanson

      Best Friends is the org. trying to save animals HSPCA is the one hiding in the darkness. Houston H has never been reputable in the eyes of most rescues. They are just like PETA. a killing machine.

      • Jackie B

        You might want to check your facts about this and who spread these stupid rumors….

        • Linda Swanson

          Guess you were taken to school.

  • Beth Trotter

    I wanna share my experience… we drove through the night Friday and all day Saturday to bring dog food and water to Texas from South Carolina. When I saw a post about the animals in need at Ford Center we decided that was where we needed to go. We finally got there but the Houston SPCA has taken over by that point and was refusing any donations after 8. It was 9:43. We had been driving since 9 the night before only stopping briefly to get gas and bathroom stops. So to be turned away was disheartening to say the least. We wanted to not only deliver the supplies but to stay and volunteer to take care of the animals. So we stayed the night in Beaumont and went first thing this morning only to be told they wouldn’t take anymore dog food they had enough. I couldn’t believe it because I could see at least 100 + dogs in crates and having dogs of my own I know how fast it goes. Plus my thoughts were could they not have given it to other rescues in need? We aren’t from there so had no clue where to go. Seeing those beautiful dogs I can’t imagine any of them not being saved and adopted into a loving home . The fear and sadness in their sweet faces broke my heart. I absolutely will sign the petition and if your rescue group or any other one you know of needs fosters I am more than willing. ESPECIALLY Pitbulls. I have two Pitties of my own and I adore that breed. You guys are doing amazing work!

    • Jacqueline Bedsaul Johnson

      I am so sorry you had that experience. The only way to save them all is with volunteers and donations. Thank you for caring enough to try and help.

      • Beth Trotter

        It’s ok… and from what I am hearing and seeing of others experiences I’m not the only one.

      • Jackie B

        Best Friends main advocacy is pit bulls; they need to stop this and give more consideration to other dog breeds. In fact it is ridiculous the proportion of publicity given this breed while other beautiful dog breeds are being euthanized, abused, used at “bait” dogs, etc., etc. It is as if no other dogs have met with any neglect or abuse other than pit bulls and make FAR better family pets than this highly volatile breed….no need to hurl any vicious retort, I’ve stated my opinion and if you don’t like it because it rings true then too bad.

        • RubyB

          IF you want to save dogs other than pit bulls, have at it. I am so tired of people criticizing people who are doing good work. Do it yourself if you want something different done. Stop wasting your time trying to force other people to follow your orders.

    • felicia mabrey

      Bless your hearts Beth!! It took me a few to post this my eyes are from dry .After reading the article and these comments when I got to yours I could . t not go on till I just let it out Im going to contact my local media Please do the same and any body reading this the more light shed on this place the better bad people like to do their bad deeds in the darkest shadows not the spot light PLEASE there really is power in numbers the media has power and Best Friends and these animals need some help Beth if you do call let me know who maybe who I call can team up with them never hurts to try !!don’t let this stop you from helping animals them and the world needs more of you !!! : )

    • Larry Erdman

      Beth, if you still in the area, our Rescue & Reunion Center would welcome your donations of supplies and time.

  • annette lennon

    Demand basic rights listed above

  • Amanda mayhew

    They need to be held accountable!

  • Dawkta Dawg

    It seems that Harris County and City of Houston want to control the rescue efforts in an effort to vie for money from donations? Could this be motivated by desire for PROFIT by non-profit? Something doesn’t seem quite right here.

    • Barb Logan

      I also have wondered if there is money involved. That would explain a lot.

    • RubyB

      It takes a lot of donations to pay Patti Mercer $250,000 per year.

  • Carin Wilkins Sikora

    I am beyond heartbroken and disgusted. When you hear SPCA you think help, care, compassion… Wow, this an eye opener. Horrible.

  • Lee Worton

    I live in NC and we have our share of hurricanes, too. Is there not a way that we can appeal to the governing powers-that-be in Houston, like a mayor or something, and demand that the Hurricane Harvey rescued animals – regardless of species or breed – be treated humanely and kept alive until possible return to owner or adoption or relocation to rescue. A dog pound, this is what the Houston SPCA is, should not have the final decision over an animal’s life, especially when there are so many rescues ready and willing to help them. I also believe that the Houston major TV and News outlets need to be informed about what is going on. Public outcry, most of the time, will sway Politicians decisions, because nobody wants the public against them – there is always another election coming.

  • Dee M

    Are you kidding me? People are sacrificing their own funds and risking their health to save animals..only to be euthanized before they can be reunited? Haven’t these victims lost enough?

  • Steve Christine Haslet

    Thank you for stepping up. The rescues and volunteers were hung out to dry after working so hard and giving so much. Houston SPCA was willing to go so far as to use force to remove the volunteers, it’s a despicable, aggressive display of power. They have used their position of “power” for evil. They need to be investigated and held accountable.

  • Julie Gonzales Fleiser

    Per Animal Rescuer, Paige King less than an hour ago…(Facebook)
    “I just got off the phone with Stephanie Timko who is at the Ford Center in Beaumont. She has been there for several days with her team. (who recently joined with Duck Team 6!) They walked into chaos and organized it ALL and were able to proudly hand it over to the Houston SPCA. She would like it to be known that they had a volunteer standing watch all night. No animals were seen leaving, no bags, no bodies, no vehicles came and left, no one going in and out. No pitbulls are being euthanized. One came in with a gunshot wound but is recovering. One horse died 🙁 but it had been removed from a field. She said horse pictures seen post were not from Ford. The Sheriff’s dept is taking 2 trailers to the Houston SPCA. Dogs going back to Houston spca can be rescued by any legit 501 rescue by contacting Jefferson County requires mandatory 30 hold for these animals before adopting out. She also said that the Sheriff dept are locating people on site that are posting false info and removing them! Stephanie and her team are helping today with reuniting pets and their owners but she said they will prob be heading back later because it’s extremely organized and under control now. WOOF! GREAT JOB!!!”

    • jondunn

      Julie, animals have indeed been leaving – the Humane Society of MO posted that they were operating a transport between Beaumont and Houston. Again, without the transparency, we don’t have any idea what the plans are from the HSPCA to reunite pets with their families.

      If there’s nothing to hide, why hide?

      Jon Dunn
      Best Friends Animal Society

  • Laura Austin

    I signed and shared as well and praying to god everyone else will do the same for god’s animals. Thank you and god bless each of you who will continue to fight for the animals… all of them.

  • Play Doh Williams

    If there is anyone there who could organize a protest in front of the Ford Center and the Houston SPCA I know many would be there. And of course the press would be there as well.

    • Laura Austin

      You got that right, though most are well in advance but it’s worth a shot nothing to lose at this point and time. Everyone would have to share like crazy with every person they know and as them to do the same. Thank you for suggesting it, it means a lot to the lost of lives which is unbearable. God bless you

  • comment

    The Houston SPCA is an organization full of animal lovers who work hard but some of the policies are very unfortunate. All pi bulls or dogs that look like the breed are euthanized unless there is a rescue that can take them. If an owner surrenders the breed to the shelter they are informed that they will be euthanized and given the option to take them home. No matter the breed of dog or type of animal strays are all given a three day hold for owners to get them. This is probably where a lot of the misconceptions are coming from. The animals that make it to the adoption floor are not given a time limit but allowed to stay there until they are adopted (this can take a long time in some cases). Making it to the adoption floor can be the tricky part for some animals. Animals with behavior or health concerns are euthanized.
    For those confused the Houston SPCA is not affiliated with any other organization (including the ASPCA) using the acronym SPCA. Any organization can use the acronym.
    -Please do not be confused, this is not a statement from the Houston SPCA.

  • Cathy Curran

    Please get hspca out of there! ! Please just go there and take over

    • jondunn


      We’d like to work with the Houston SPCA or any other organization on the ground who is committed to saving lives. This isn’t about forcing them out, as much as it is about ensuring everyone involved in the response to Harvey is doing right by the animals who have been displaced.

      Jon Dunn
      Best Friends Animal Society

  • Marcia Kroemer

    So far, the SPCA denies this is going on…that those they are getting, and KNOW are owned, are being transported out to Dallas and other areas for holding, for reuniting with evacuated owners. I know of ONE horse, put down, because rescue was not possible. While the very idea of euthanising healthy, recoverable and placeable animals is abhorrent to me, one must also face facts that not all CAN be saved…lives WILL be and have been lost, no matter how many acts of heroism have been performed. Good and bad decisions will be made on all fronts. Mistakes WILL be made. This is a NATURAL disaster, not man made. Many left their pets behind to die…no matter the reason, they made that decision…all kinds of people are doing all they can against all odds to save all they can. I say support however we can…no matter who is doing the work. It is easy to sit here on the sidelines and criticize those who ARE having to make life and death decisions…we can only pray they make the right decisions for each animal.
    The horse was NOT an SPCA rescue…

  • Susan Brummett

    Signed and shared.

  • Deborah Comeaux

    Link to petition is not working.