How to Help Animals Displaced by Hurricane Florence

Getty Matt Murray, a volunteer with an animal rescue organization, carries a small dog he found abandoned beside a flooded home during Hurricane Harvey.

Every time a major hurricane hits, those in the affected areas are left scrambling to figure out what to do with their pets. Many hotels don’t allow evacuees fleeing a hurricane to bring their pets with them to hotels, so many are left with the incredibly difficult decision to abandon their pets while they flee or to ride out the storm with their furbabies by their side. Although many hotels are changing their policies to allow evacuees to bring their pets with, this is still a major issue that many face while preparing for natural disasters.

ORANGE, TX – SEPTEMBER 05: Matt Murray, a volunteer with an animal rescue organization, carries a small dog he found abandoned beside a flooded home on September 5, 2017 in Orange, Texas.Thousands of pets and livestock have either run away or been left to fend for themselves after Hurricane Harvey ravaged parts of the state of Texas. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Many shelters have been preparing for Florence’s landfall by relocating pets in shelters in the projected path of the hurricane and moving them to shelters that aren’t expected to to be hit by the storm.

The Humane Rescue Alliance has done just that. The group recently accepted 26 dogs and cats from a shelter in Norfolk, according to the Washingtonian. The pets will all be available for adoption within the next few days. The group expects more to come, according to communication director Matt Williams. “We’re ready and standing by.”

“If you adopt an animal from us now, that clears room for us to bring in additional animals from the affected areas,” says Williams. “That’s the biggest push right now.”

Adopt or Foster a Shelter Animal & Volunteer Your Time

If you are in the market for a new pet, now is the perfect time to look into adopting a local shelter animal. Several shelters are significantly lowering or waiving adoption fees altogether to help free up room for displaced pets even quicker.

Many of the pets are also fostered by helpful volunteers, who took the time to make room in their homes so that the shelters could free up space for any incoming, displaced, or missing animals that might show up during post-storm rescue efforts.

The Greenville Humane Society in South Carolina was more than 200 animals over capacity as of Monday  — with over 60 of them taken in from low county areas forecast to be hit hard by the storm, so local shelters are in desperate need to free up more space.

Donating Money, Pet Supplies & Food

If you are looking for other ways to help shelters and displaced animals during Hurricane Florence, there are several things you can do to help. Monetary donations are an enormous help to shelters in the path of Florence.

“When we get animals, there’s a cost for us,” Williams told the Washingtonian. “We have to transport them, number one, and number two, we have to make sure they’re vaccinated and microchipped and spayed and neutered. So monetary donations are always gladly accepted.”

Items such as food, leashes, pet carriers, waste bags, food dishes, blankets, cat litter and litter boxes are always in high demand during natural disasters as well, so if you are looking for a way to help but can’t adopt or foster, donating pet items is a great way to help out. You can create generally inexpensive pet disaster supply kits with items from your local pet store to be donated to affected shelters.

In an effort to help displaced animals, Wag!, a dog walking service, has also partnered with to band together to help local pets in need. Those asking themselves, “how can I help” can head here to donate. 100% of the donations go directly towards animal relief in the area.

“Wag! has pledged to match dollar for dollar up to $10,000 for every monetary donation made on this website,” according to Alyce Bonnar of BuzzLounge. “These Hurricane Florence donations will provide funding to get more people on the ground to rescue abandoned animals from the disaster to get them the assistance and attention they need.”

Spread the Word

If money is an issue or you are unable to take in an animal at this time, something as simple as spreading the word helps enormously as well. Keep an eye on your local shelters and rescues and share helpful articles and tips on how to help friends and family in the path of the storm keep themselves, and their furbabies, safe.

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