An animal shelter in the wake of Hurricane Florence has warned it will euthanize the animals if it cannot find people to adopt them before the storm hits.
Jewel Horton, director of Pender County Animal Shelter in North Carolina, said Wednesday that local government-run animal shelters were filling up quickly and those that reached their capacity had to “make room.”
It means slaughtering animals to reduce overcrowding.
“We avoid euthanasia at all costs,” said Ms. Horton. âThis is why we are begging for help. “
Organizations such as the Pender County Humane Society help facilitate adoption and strive to free up space in the shelter without having to sacrifice animals.
âTo us, animals are more important than things,â said Julie Lamacchia, president of the Humane Society in Burgaw, North Carolina.
“Things can be replaced – anything can be replaced – but you can never replace a life, be it a person or an animal.”
Killing animals is the last thing shelter staff want to do, Ms Horton said.
Usually, when the town shelter of about 4,100 people nears capacity, she spreads the word and residents respond.
Even before Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Ms Horton was able to find enough homes for the animals at the shelter. But Matthew didn’t hit North Carolina head-on.
âPeople are fleeing this state like no tomorrow,â Ms. Horton said. âThere is simply no one here to take care of these animals.
And as more residents leave under mandatory evacuation orders, the county shelter expects their cages to become increasingly crowded.
Ms Horton said she was required by law to accept every animal that came through her doors.
It’s important that they eliminate as many animals as possible now, before the storm hits, because once they do, Horton expects his shelter to become much more cramped.
âWhen we start going into recovery mode, space will be an issue,â she said. âGetting people here to help us is going to be a problem. “
What to do with pets during a storm is a perennial question, challenging owners, activists, and managers with each hurricane season.
Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on Twitter, encouraged residents to consider their pets in their disaster preparations.
âMake a plan and put it into practice with them,â the agency urged.
Organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society in the United States have become more aggressive in responding to disasters, especially after Hurricane Katrina.
A poll after the devastating 2006 storm found that 44% of people who chose not to evacuate did so because they didn’t want to leave their pets behind. But still, many animals have been abandoned – more than 100,000, according to the Louisiana SPCA.
No less than 70,000 have died across the Gulf Coast.
On Tuesday, the ASPCA appealed to pet owners, asking them to evacuate their animals as well, and instructed them to do so.
“We cannot stress enough the importance of incorporating pets into evacuation plans to keep families together and animals safe,” said Dick Green, head of the emergency response unit. from the ASPCA, in the press release.
In a separate statement, Mr. Green also encouraged animal shelters to plan ahead.
“It is imperative that animal shelters take the proactive and necessary measures and collaborate with other agencies as necessary to ensure the safety of the animals in their care during emergency situations,” he said.
ASPCA and other groups are on the ground in the Carolinas, helping with local animal relocation efforts.
In Pender County and other areas, animal lovers have used social media and word of mouth to try to organize a large-scale animal rescue.
Samira Davis, a resident of Wilmington, volunteered Monday to help the Pender County Humane Society coordinate the relocation of the animals. She said they have done a good job – so far.
âWe have probably saved between 30 and 50 animals, but there are about to be so much more in need,â she said.
Additionally, the local Humane Society is strapped for cash, and Ms Lamacchia fears Hurricane Florence will further undermine their resources.
“This storm is going to destroy us,” she said. âIf we don’t get people to rally, encourage and donate, it’s really going to limit our efforts. “
The Washington Post