Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hurricane Sandy Animal Shelters

Helpless Animals Hit Hard By Hurricane Sandy

While the human toll of Hurricane Sandy is un-ignorable, it is so easy to forget the silent, helpless victims: the animals. The hurricane that left hundreds of people without homes and jobs also left hundreds of animals without food, shelter, medical care or hope. Fortunately, there are many organizations willing to bear the responsibility for these little creatures, but the question is: are they enough now that so many shelters are now uninhabitable?

Animal Shelters Currently Top Concern

The wind and water brought by Hurricane Sandy left dozens of shelters struggling to care for its animals. Many workers stayed on without electricity, running water or heat so that the animals could be looked after. Even though many of the shelters are being rebuilt, there is still the matter of housing the animals during the process.

Human Care Efforts Result in Lower Volunteers for Animal Support

Volunteers are beginning to dwindle, as well. The strain of the entire effort of rebuilding homes and other structures has sapped many of the human resources from the animal care efforts, and even though the shelters have bound together in order to give each other support in this difficult time, they still find that they are lacking the necessary staff to comfortably look after all of the animals.

Buster the Dogs Story

The recent story of Buster, the dog that disappeared while his family surveyed the damage done to the home, has highlighted the lack of shelter resources. For weeks, Buster’s family, the O’Donovans, searched the neighborhood for him, and because there was no internet service or even electricity, they couldn't search any of the shelter’s databases. They couldn't even safely travel to the city shelters.

Buster’s photograph was posted on a Facebook page dedicated to final appeals for the rescue of dogs that are about to be put to sleep. It was through sheer luck that the family discovered that Buster had been located but was scheduled for euthanasia. They rushed to call the Animal Care & Control Center where he was held, but no one answered the phone. Fortunately, they arrived at the shelter just in time to save their pet, and adopt another puppy whose previous owner had just dropped him off for fostering.

Volume of Lost Pets Entering Shelters is Causing Handling Difficulties

The shelters are obviously doing their best to accommodate all of the frightened and lost pets, but the volume has overwhelmed many of the centers. In Buster’s case, the AC & CC adhered to the basic standards of care, but they were so taxed that they were unable to respond to the volume of inquiries. It is very difficult for shelters to not only handle their usual volume of animals, while trying to put up with the influx of lost pets after the storm that all need to be reunited with their owners. Not to mention the stress of rebuilding.

Help is Still Needed

It is important that we all do what we can to help these services get back on their feet. Emergency grants have helped enormously, but volunteers are still sorely needed, and supplies are always welcome.

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