While homes and streets were flooded as a result of Hurricane Florence, animal shelters across the East Coast were hit just as hard.
As of Sunday afternoon, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety reported more than 1,000 animal rescues had occurred during and after the storm.
Paws Place Dog Rescue, a nonprofit animal shelter in Brunswick County, was forced to close due to flooding from the storm. A post on the shelter’s website said their facility began flooding at 4 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16.
The post said all four of the shelter’s volunteers and 23 dogs were evacuated safely. The dogs were relocated to the animal shelter in Brunswick County and are “all safe, dry and being well-cared for."
Schorr Johnson, a spokesperson for N.C. Emergency Management, said many of the animals rescued were relocated to both county-run shelters and non-profit, volunteer organizations in the state that were farther away from the storm’s impact.
Johnson said these foster shelters are looking for homes for many of the rescued animals.
He said specifics about pet rescues and evacuations were hard to come by, as record-keeping was not a priority in removing animals from harm’s way. But Johnson said he knew of two facilities that had taken in animals that had to evacuate: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County and Second Chance Pet Adoption in Raleigh.
Tara Lynn, communications manager at the SPCA of Wake County, said the shelter is private and independent, not municipal, so its ability to take in rescued animals was limited.
Lynn said the SPCA of Wake County took in 15 cats and five dogs that had to evacuate from a shelter in Carteret County. She said the shelter there suffered from flooding, loss of power and a partial roof collapse.
The next step for these rescued animals, Lynn said, is to give them the “full treatment.” She said two of the dogs rescued have already tested positive for heartworms, so they will need to be treated for that.
As far as the other rescued animals, SPCA of Wake County will be giving them a full treatment of vaccines as well as flea, tick and heartworm prevention medication.
Lynn also said with the chaos of the storm, records weren’t a priority to rescue teams, so it was hard to know the history of their new animals. She said they would also be spaying or neutering the cats who hadn’t already had that procedure.
Because these animals were rescued from an animal shelter, Lynn said the hope would be to get them adopted from SPCA of Wake County, and they will remain in the facility's care until that happens.
Lynn said the biggest challenge animal rescue facilities are facing is an overage of food donations coming their way after the storm. She said the amount of dog and cat food being donated is exceeding many shelters' storage space, and it’s difficult to use or store the food in a climate-controlled area before it spoils.
Lynn said a monetary donation would serve these shelters and the rescued animals better.
“People love to go out and shop and buy things,” Lynn said. “But a monetary donation usually can go a lot further.”