More than 600,000 animals died during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, according to The Atlantic. As a result, awareness about vulnerable animals during disasters is rising, and the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act was a direct result of the tragic aftermath of Katrina. Unfortunately, people are still abandoning their pets when evacuating. Dianne Sauve, head of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, told the Post that the department will be pursuing criminal charges against owners who abandoned their dogs and left them tied up in places where they would not be able to escape the storm. 26 dogs were rescued from Bell Glade, Fla. Sept. 8 after being abandoned by their owners ahead of Irma. With animal shelters already overwhelmed, here's how you can help ease the burden.
Become a Temporary Foster
If you want to help, even small efforts can make a big difference. One thing you can do is foster an animal from your local animal shelter to make room for animals being transported from disaster areas to the rest of the country.
Spread The Word
If you're not able to foster or adopt right now, spread the word on social media, and among your friends and family. Even if you aren’t able to foster spreading the word can help find someone who can.
Make Direct Donations
While it's always good to make donations to large animal rescue organizations, making small, directed donations to specific animal groups operating in disaster areas does the most good the fastest. Many local rescue groups are entirely volunteer and donation based, and are overwhelmed during regular days. During a disaster they need all the help they can get.
Don’t Throw It Away - Donate
Shelters can always use some extra supplies. Contact your local shelter or rescue group to see if it has a wish list of items it needs, just be sure to clean any supplies before you donate them. Often a shelter’s wish list will include:
- Water and food bowls
- Old bedding and blankets
- Laundry detergent
- Plastic bags
- Leashes and collars
- Brushes/grooming tools
- Pet beds
- Hand sanitizer
Call your local animal shelter and ask how you can volunteer. Volunteer duties can include everything from walking dogs, spending times with cats, collecting and organizing supplies like towels, blankets, leashes, etc., and even office or social media work. Shelters and rescue groups all over the country are likely going to be overwhelmed as they make room for animals displaced by both hurricanes and fires, so now is a perfect time to help.
Help Animals In Distress
If you are in a disaster area, like the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and you see an animal in distress, try to help. If you're not comfortable taking the animal to safety yourself, or if it's too dangerous, call police, a rescue group, or animal shelter, and wait until someone arrives. Many people assume someone else will help, and unfortunately, that's not always true. Here are just a few groups to consider donating to that are collecting funds specifically for Hurricane Harvey & Irma: ASPCA The Humane Society Best Friends Austin Pets Alive!