Humans weren’t the only victims of Superstorm Sandy. It also had a devastating effect on pets.
Some people left their pets behind when they evacuated their homes. Other pets got lost. The result is countless companion animals left to fend for themselves.
Fortunately they are not forgotten. Several rescue groups are working in the areas hit by the storm to find, feed and try to save the animals who are on their own. Here are just a few of them.
One of these groups is Guardians of Rescue, which CNN’s Randi Kaye profiled. Guardians has rescued 100 cats so far. The group’s Robert Misseri described the cats’ condition: “Many of them are suffering from stress to start. Some of the cats had blood in the urine, some of them had internal injuries, some of them had exterior wounds. We found several cats with seawater in their lungs.”
Guardians of Rescue called in help from out-of-town: a Detroit rapper named Hush. He collected nearly 8,000 pounds of dog and cat food in Detroit, then drove 12 hours to New York to drop it off and lend a hand.
Volunteers have gone door-to-door looking for abandoned pets and dropping off food and litter. They pick up the animals they find along the way and place them in foster care until their families can reclaim them. If no one comes, the pets will be put up for adoption.
The North Shore Animal League opened an emergency animal shelter on Long Island that took in “over 300 animals that were displaced when their owners had to evacuate their homes,” including birds and bunnies. Fortunately, many of these pets have been reunited with their families. The organization “and its partners in rescue promise to provide food, shelter and medical care for as long as needed.”
While they care for the pets left in their care at the emergency shelter, they are also sending Mobile Rescue Units into “storm-damaged communities distributing free dog and cat food” courtesy of Purina PetCare.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
HSUS’s efforts were “concentrated in New Jersey, where 30 people are working in three counties,” according to the group’s Director of Disaster Services Niki Dawson. The Daily Beast reports that HSUS is “bringing in an average of 60 displaced animals every day.”
“Over and over again,” Dawson said, “we hear from people, ‘I don’t care if I lost my house. I don’t care if I lost my car. It’s just stuff. At least I have my dog.”
One bright spot in the tragedy and chaos: many animals benefited from a lesson we learned from the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina. Unlike during Katrina, all city shelters accepted pets, so people ordered or advised to evacuate their homes did not have to choose between their pets’ lives and their own safety. Taxis and public transportation were also required to allow pets on board. HSUS’s Dawson said that as a result, in New York City “the situation isn’t quite so dire” as in New Jersey.
Some animal rescue organizations need rescuing themselves, having sustained major damage from the storms. Some no-kill shelters need an infusion of resources to pursue their work of pulling animals out of Animal Care and Control (the pound, which kills animals). Adopt NY is looking out for 44 of these groups. It “is working to provide a series of rescue organizations with foster homes for pets along with supplies,” and held benefits in Brooklyn and Manhattan to raise more money.