In the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, our Animal Rescue Team, working with other responders in Escambia County, Florida, has transported 46 adoptable cats and dogs out of the local animal shelter there. They have also taken dog and cat food to families with pets and conducted welfare checks of companion animals to ensure they are safe and their medical and other needs are attended to.
Our team members arrived in Florida last week and immediately went to work, surveying neighborhoods to see how they could best help. Conditions on the ground were difficult. Neighborhoods were still flooded and for most people in the area, driving to veterinarians or to pick up pet food was out of the question. Fortunately, we could bring much-needed assistance for animals like Pixie, a cat who had escaped her house during the storm and returned with a laceration on her leg.
The family’s car had been damaged in the storm so they couldn’t take Pixie to the veterinarian’s office. But any delay in medical care could have resulted in a serious infection. Responders came across Pixie and her family during door-to-door welfare checks. They took her to a veterinarian who was able to fix Pixie’s leg and soon she was back with her loving family, happy and on her way to a full recovery.
The Escambia County Animal Shelter had been without power and water for several days after Hurricane Sally hit last week, so we helped move many adoptable animals out of the shelter, creating space for more lost or homeless animals who are bound to come in following the storm. The animals are now with our shelter and rescue partners in Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio where they will be available for adoption.
But even in the midst of all the destruction and uncertainty, staff members reported witnessing heartwarming instances of the close companionship between people and their pets, and the generosity of the people they encountered. Residents waded through knee-deep waters, sometimes bringing their pets with them, to meet our team, grateful we were checking in on them. Some, desperate for help, sought us out, like a woman who brought her beloved dog to our responders as we were loading up the dogs at the shelter for transport. She was clearly upset and close to tears because the dog, who she described as her best friend since her husband died last year, had a bad rash all over his belly but no veterinarians were open. The dog appeared to be having an allergic reaction so the Escambia shelter staff provided her with enough antihistamine to last her until she can get to a veterinarian today.
On Saturday, our team handed out 200 pounds of dog and 50 pounds of cat food. People have been calling asking for help and more food we are donating will be distributed in coming days along with donations of food and flea and tick medications from GreaterGood.org.
This is work we are proud to do, and it is some of our most important, too. The HSUS has some of the most dedicated, trained responders who routinely wade into some of the toughest circumstances after natural and manmade disasters to help animals. This time, they braved heavy wind and rain to get to Florida in the midst of the storm and worked day and night to ensure that the animals were taken care of. Local responders who worked with us had to battle the dual challenge of going to work to save animals even as they dealt with flooding in their own homes and loss of power and water.
Our work in the aftermath of Sally is mostly done, but hurricane season is upon us and we know that next call asking for our help could be coming any day now. We are grateful for your help, which makes this lifesaving work possible, so please consider making a donation today. Help support this and other emergency rescues, as well as our work for all animals.