Losing your home and possessions in a natural disaster can be devastating, but being surrounded by your family can ease the shock. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of a hurricane, many beloved four-legged family members are lost or have been left behind.
Some pet owners leave their animals behind during natural disasters because they can’t evacuate with them or because they hope to quickly return. After such disasters, few pets are successfully reunited with their owners. After Hurricane Katrina 250,000 pets were stranded. The 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan, few local pets survived.
According to the American Humane Association (AHA), 14.5 million dogs, 15.3 million cats, and 1.5 million horses were caught in the path of Hurricane Sandy. There were also many guinea pigs, rabbits, reptiles, birds and other pets that were endangered by the storm.
Many pets have been lost or displaced for various reasons. Some were left behind by evacuated families. Other pets, frightened by the storm, have run away from their homes due to damaged backyard fences. Some shelter animals have been displaced due to flooding at pet adoption agencies. And some families have had to place their animals in pet shelters temporarily for fear that hotels and evacuation centers wouldn’t accommodate them.
Reuniting pet owners with their beloved animals can be complicated. Some pets don’t have microchips and others have lost their collars. Some pet owners have lost their own identification, making it difficult to claim their pets. Many owners have also become fearful that their pets may be euthanized if left in shelters for too long.
Fortunately, steps are being taken to protect these pets:
- Global Animals has listed animal-friendly evacuation shelters in seven states to help keep families together.
- The AHA sent a Red Star Rescue team and an 82-foot truck for a mobile command center to rescue, feed and medically aid lost pets.
- Organizations and volunteers have created temporary shelters in the affected areas that are taking care of the animals until they are claimed.
- Some have donated pet food.
- Some are found visiting Facebook.