While many Florida pet owners are ensuring their beloved animals make it to safety, others are doing the exact opposite.
Since many shelters don’t take pets, some families fleeing Hurricane Irma feel forced to leave them behind. Instead of just leaving them indoors, however, many have left their dogs or cats outside to face certain death.
As of Saturday, Sept. 9, more than 50 animals had already been found tied to trees or otherwise forced to withstand the elements, just in Palm Beach County. ABC Action News talked to officers from the Palm Beach County Animal Care, and the news was heartbreaking.
The ABC Action News team spoke to Diane Sauve, the Director of Animal Care, who explained the dire situation these animals were put in:
“They are left in a yard, in a pen they cannot escape from, or tethered to trees or poles.”
Tied up like this, the animals have almost no chance of surviving Hurricane Irma’s path of destruction.
Between the heavy rains and strong winds, not to mention the risk of hunger or dehydration, these dogs and other pets are in a horrible situation. To put it in perspective, Sauve explained:
“Even a tiny grain of sand can hurt an animal when it’s traveling through 100-plus mph winds.”
Unfortunately for these animals, officers were only able to come to the rescue until wind speeds sustained 35 mph. After this, it would become too large of a safety risk for the humans. Because of this, Sauve said:
“We are asking the public, if it is safe, consider sheltering any animals you see left outside.”
At the time of the interview, animal control officers had rescued 49 dogs along with two cats in just the previous 48 hours.
Sauve and her team have no plans of letting the humans responsible get away with this.
As Dave Aronberg, the state attorney, explained:
“This is a prime example of animal cruelty. We will find you, and we will prosecute you.”
Sauve added that they will use their investigation skills and paper trails to find those who leave their animals outside and bring them to justice.
“It’s unconscionable. We will not stand for it here in Palm Beach County.”
In addition to the animals that Sauve’s team had to rescue from the storm, USA Today reported that the agency’s shelter took in additional 40 or so dogs and cats that their owners relinquished.
There are three different pet-friendly shelters located in Palm Beach County. Additionally, Sauve’s “goal is to keep pets and people together,” making these surrenders a sad occasion. Despite this disappointment, she told USA Today that:
“These are things that are not unexpected during a situation like this.”
At the very least, the owners who surrendered their pets made a decision to help their animals instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.
Even so, those who surrendered their pets have given up ownership rights, meaning they cannot get their dog or cat back following Hurricane Irma. Voluntary surrenders may also make it harder to adopt again in the future.
With Hurricane Irma barreling through Florida full speed, many also wonder what will happen to the area’s wildlife.
The Telegraph explained that while some types of wild animals are able to get out of the area in time, others are not. Certain organizations, such as the World Animal Protection charity, began working hard as soon as Irma was announced to rescue animals when necessary. They will also treat and then care for the animals who become injured.
Wild animals face more than just the threat of injury from the storm. Following Hurricane Irma, they may have food sources damaged. Typically, charities will bring in emergency supplies for wildlife after hurricanes. Wildlife such as raccoons, black bears, ground birds, and certain frogs or toads tend to do well following a hurricane, while endangered species, sea turtles, fish, and squirrels tend to do poorly.
If you watched Hurricane Irma unfold from afar, there are still plenty of ways to help the people and animals affected by it, including finding a worthy charity to donate to.
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(h/t) ABC Action News