In pictures: Helping animals in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

By on October 12, 2022 with 6 Comments

In the news cycle, Hurricane Ian may be over, but for the communities affected, the disaster has not ended. We’re on the ground in Charlotte County, Florida, providing whatever help and resources we can to families with pets, from veterinary care to pet supplies, as residents struggle to reassemble their lives amid the rubble.

In the face of such massive destruction, it can be overwhelming to even think about where to begin. But sometimes the simplest gesture is the most appreciated: Our team members started out by going door to door, offering help and supplies and talking to residents about their horrific experiences with the storm.

Our Animal Rescue Team visits a resident and her two dogs in Punta Gorda. Daniel Wagner/AP Images for the HSUS

Our team then coordinated the creation of a distribution center for animal supplies and a pop-up veterinary clinic offering free vet services, since so many veterinary clinics remain closed. Operating out of the Mid County Regional Library in Port Charlotte, the distribution center connects pet owners in need with pet beds, blankets, leashes, collars, water and food bowls, litter and litter boxes, treats, small-animal food, and bedding and feed for cows, horses, goats and chickens. Special thanks to the Amazon Pets Team and Chewy for providing much needed pet food and supplies.

One resident is overcome with emotion as Donithan visits her home in Punta Gorda. Daniel Wagner/AP Images for the HSUS

The need is intense: There is a line before the doors open in the morning, and there are people coming through at every minute of every day. At this point, we estimate that about 600 cars come through for supplies each day, and the veterinary clinic has already seen hundreds of animals.

The pop-up veterinary clinic saw hundreds of animals in just the first few days it was open. Erik Kellar/AP Images for the HSUS

We’re also helping move shelter animals who were already awaiting adoption out of the region to our shelter and rescue partners, increasing the capacity of impacted communities to care for the influx of displaced animals following the storm, which boosts the likelihood that they can be reunited with their families. So far, we’ve coordinated several transports, with more potentially to come. This past weekend, we worked with Greater Good Charities to fly more than 150 dogs, cats and guinea pigs who were available for adoption at various Florida shelters prior to the storm to shelter partners in the Pacific Northwest, including Blackfoot Animal Shelter & Rescue, Oregon Dog Rescue, Humane Society of Central Oregon, Meow Cat Rescue and Seattle Humane Society.

We’ve also helped to coordinate ground transports of shelter animals to Hilton Head Humane Association, the SPCA of Cincinnati, Florida SPCA, Nashville Humane Association and Humane Society of Greater Kansas City. With the help of Wings of Rescue, shelter animals have been brought to Animal Haven in New York, Rutland County Humane Society in Vermont and our own care and rehabilitation center in Maryland.

A resident and her cat visited at her home by our Animal Rescue Team, in Punta Gorda. Daniel Wagner/AP Images for the HSUS

The aftermath of Hurricane Ian is almost unfathomable. Our team has spoken to people who swam through floodwaters with their animals and people who are still living out of their cars with their animals because their houses were destroyed, and the hotels are full. One family living out of their truck thought they might have to give up their dog until our staff connected them to a place to stay. Some people have lost their jobs because their places of employment were destroyed. So many have lost their homes. Many cannot access cash, still a primary mode of payment in many businesses. There’s also a huge supply-chain disruption, and the functioning stores are often out of supply. Even finding an item as simple as ice is incredibly difficult.

Workers distribute pet supplies on Oct. 7 in Charlotte County, Florida, for residents and their animals affected by Hurricane Ian. Erik Kellar/AP Images for the HSUS

There are too many stories of struggle and survival to count, and the work of recovery will be slow and undoubtedly painful. But I’m heartened that our team can offer some residents and their pets meaningful relief, hustling to help, giving out needed supplies and resources, lending a listening ear and connecting people to the help they require.

Offering free veterinary services to residents after the hurricane is just one way our team is providing relief to families. Erik Kellar/AP Images for the HSUS

This disaster is not over. We are honored to be able to provide what we can to the people and pets who need it most.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Cada ves mas gente se preocupa por el bienestar de los animalitos y mas gente invierten su tiempo en ayudar a los animalitos

  2. Karin Erker says:

    Gott sei Dank haben die Tiere Hilfe durch die … wie schrecklich … danke an ihre Organisation

  3. Joyce Wolfe says:

    PetCareRx appreciate your effort. More than 150 dogs, cats, and guinea pigs were flown to shelter partners in the Pacific Northwest thanks to our collaboration with Greater Good Charities. These partners include Blackfoot Animal Shelter & Rescue, Oregon Dog Rescue, Humane Society of Central Oregon, Meow Cat Rescue, and Seattle Humane Society.

  4. Kate E Trick says:

    Thank you for everything that you have done for the cats and dogs and humans who suffered in Hurricane Ian. No words can say how much you are appreciated.

  5. Vanessa Walker says:

    Kitty Block, contact Nightly News on NBC, and ask for continued coverage of this story. Please be specific with how others can get involved to help. No one is covering and no one is truly aware. Use your position to garner attention for the coverage c

  6. Marivel Padlo says:

    Really nice blog. Beagle community should stick together, because the is no more prettier breed than Beagles. ❤️

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