More than a hundred shelter animals were shipped from Miami to Oakland on Friday with the hopes of finding new homes in the Bay Area. Assisted by Fed-Ex, these animals were moved to make room for more to be rescued in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which devastated Florida and surrounding states last weekend after causing catastrophic damage to islands in the Caribbean before that.
It will be a long time before a full recovery will be made by most of these areas. For others, it will be a miracle if a full recovery can ever be made at all. People around the country and the world have been pitching in however they can, and one of the ways the Heat and Warriors organizations are helping is by making room for more animals to be rescued.
Throughout the storms of the last few weeks, we saw so many amazing pictures of people carrying their animals to safety, or sleeping outside of shelters because they couldn’t bring their animals in with them.
However, you might be surprised by how many people abandon their animals during an evacuation. Some are left behind because there is no place for them to go or no way to get them there; maybe some are accidentally forgotten; while others may be left behind on purpose, maybe with the hope that everything will be okay, or deemed not worthy of the effort.
I have been through a pretty large evacuation. During the Oroville Dam crisis earlier this year, more than 200,000 people in my area were told to evacuate if possible. It was not possible for my family and we stayed behind hoping for the best.
As the stand-still traffic on the freeway by my house finally emptied, we were left with an eerie silence. A silence later broken by the howls of dogs realizing they’d been left behind. As the night wore on, the heart-breaking cacophony of crying dogs became unbearable.
There were stories from shortly before the hurricane last week of people finding abandoned pets tied to trees, or locked in pens — unable to escape. The worst thing you can do to an animal in a crisis.
A plea, then, from me and anyone who values the lives of their pets: if you find yourself in an emergency situation, or if you are forming an emergency plan for your family, please do not forget your animals. You are all they have to protect them. You became responsible for their lives when you brought them into your family. Don’t leave them behind, if at all possible.
To help care for animals affected by the recent storms and help them be prepared for future disasters, you can donate to the Humane Society’s Disaster Relief Fund.