Chattanooga shelters in desperate need of homes for Gulf Coast rescue animals as Hurricane Laura approaches

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Taylor Hixson pets Darla, a dog that was evacuated from the path of Hurricane Laura earlier in the week on Tuesday. The Humane Educational Society currently features reduced adoption rates due to an influx of animals from Louisiana that were evacuated in anticipation of the impact of Hurricane Laura.

As the Gulf Coast braces for Hurricane Laura, dogs and cats from evacuated areas are flooding into Chattanooga's animal shelters, which are already at or near capacity.

The summer months are always among the busiest for animal shelters, McKamey Animal Center Director of Development and External Relations Mindy Kolin said, and both McKamey and the Humane Educational Society are in desperate need of families to adopt or foster animals.

McKamey transported 18 dogs and 15 cats from the Humane Society of South Mississippi in Gulfport, Mississippi, to its shelter in Chattanooga on Monday.

READ MORE: Hurricane Laura expected to bring rain, storms to Chattanooga region as it weakens to tropical depression

The same day, Humane Educational Society staff brought 33 dogs to its Chattanooga shelter from the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New Orleans.

"We had just enough space to squeeze them in," Humane Educational Society Interim Director Rebecca Bryan said.

Both shelter evacuations were arranged through rescue partnerships with the Humane Society of the United States. The goal was to clear adoptable animals from shelters in the path of the storm, in preparation for potential structural damage and to increase their capacity to accommodate animals displaced by the storm.

With more than 200 animals now available for adoption, McKamey is also nearly at capacity, Kolin said.

McKamey is trying to find permanent and foster homes for the animals that were in the shelter before adopting out those that were transported from the Gulf Coast, because some of the new arrivals have not received the care McKamey provides to all its adoptable animals. That includes spaying or neutering, microchipping and administering medication for parasites, Kolin said.

"While we know people want to come running out to get the hurricane animals, you're still helping by getting an animal that's already been rescued here and has been living here as we get these other guys ready for adoption," Kolin said, adding that the shelter is in need of people willing to foster animals who are waiting to be adopted. "The only reason why we are able to be a relief partner is because we know the community steps up and comes in during these months to help with fostering so that we can make sure we have room available if we're needed again."

On Saturday McKamey is holding a 12-hour "clear the shelter" event, in which the shelter is offering two-for-one feline adoptions for $10 and dog adoptions for $35 (excluding puppies or highly adoptable purebred dogs). Senior dogs are available for $30 and pigs for $40.

All adoptions are by appointment only. To start the adoption process visit

The Humane Educational Society's adoptions are also by appointment, made by calling 423-624-5302. All dog and cat adoptions are now $25. To view adoptable animals or to fill out forms to adopt or foster, visit

Contact Emily Crisman at or 423-757-6508. Follow her on Twitter @emcrisman.