As Hurricane Dorian moves closer to our shores, an extremely dangerous storm that could cause unprecedented flooding and winds in several coastal states, we’re working with our shelter partners to move animals out of harm’s way.
On Sunday, we coordinated an evacuation of approximately 80 animals awaiting adoption at three Florida animal shelters, and yesterday, we evacuated approximately 50 dogs and cats waiting for adoption at a South Carolina shelter.
The animals removed from Florida – cats and mostly large-breed dogs — left Jacksonville on Sunday in a rescue flight we funded and coordinated. The animals came from the Nassau Humane Society, Jacksonville Animal Protective Services and St. Johns County Pet Center. The Michigan Humane Society has taken charge of their transport and distribution to shelters in that state.
The dogs and cats evacuated from the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina went to Safe Haven for Cats, SPCA of Wake County and Humane Society of Charlotte, all in North Carolina.
At our South Florida Wildlife Center, more than 60 staff and volunteers worked around the clock over the weekend to evacuate over 400 injured and orphaned animals who are currently in the center’s care. Staff and trained volunteers looked after the animals in their homes. The animals are now returning to the Center, which reopened today.
Transporting animals during events like these doesn’t just ensure that these animals are safe and spared the distress of living through a disaster; it also creates space for displaced animals who flow into shelters in large numbers after such events.
We ask individuals in the path of the storm to take all necessary steps to keep themselves and their beloved animals safe. To prepare yourself and your household for such threats, make a disaster plan for your pets and assemble a disaster preparedness kit. If you plan to evacuate, include your pets in your plans because animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed.
In recent years, a series of severe weather events have led us to step up our disaster response services here and abroad. Our experience in Louisiana post-Katrina, in 2005, especially led us to revise our approach on how we respond to such situations. Now, when we get news of a natural disaster like a severe storm approaching, we reach out immediately to our shelter and rescue partners in the affected area. We take quick and proactive action to move animals to safety before disaster strikes, we intensify our efforts to get the word out to people with pets in the path of the storm, and we do our best to help put the pieces back together in the aftermath. Happily, too, the public policy landscape has changed for the better, and more response agencies and governments have taken steps to incorporate animals into their disaster planning scenarios.
If this hurricane has the expected impact, animals could be in need of urgent rescue. We’ll do more once we can assess Hurricane Dorian’s impact on animals in the southeastern United States and the Caribbean. Humane Society International is in touch with local groups in the Bahamas, which has been hit hard by Dorian, and we are making efforts to offer much-needed support to the affected animals there.
Your support makes a big difference in helping us to prepare staff members for rescue work, to respond to animals’ needs during natural disasters, and to take action whenever animals are at risk. Please support these lifesaving efforts, the work of our animal rescue teams, and all of our efforts to help animals in crisis by donating to our Emergency Animal Rescue Fund. There are many stakeholders who look to us when disasters and other emergencies arise, and your generosity makes it possible for us to step up and stand out for animals in need.