Hurricane Irma left a widespread trail of flooding and destruction throughout the Caribbean and Florida. What can concerned animal lovers do to help the dogs, cats, and other animals left homeless by the hurricane? Animal rescue and relief efforts are underway, led by both U.S. and international animal welfare organizations. Here’s an update on a few ongoing rescue operations.
The Humane Society International and the H3 Foundation are teaming up to help the animals of the British Virgin Islands that have been impacted by Hurricane Irma. An emergency veterinary team has already arrived on the island of Tortola, with more rescue and relief efforts scheduled to arrive in the BVI in the coming days. Click HERE to learn more.
The islands of Antigua and Barbuda were hard hit by Irma. While there are no animal shelters on Barbuda, Antigua humane organizations are helping the pets and farm animals of both islands. Check out the Facebook page of Paaws Antigua for the latest news and updates on their ongoing efforts to save the animals in both places.
The Florida Keys SPCA is on the front lines of helping the homeless pets of the Keys. Their facilities were damaged and all their resident shelter animals have been moved into foster homes. Not only will they need help with repairing shelter buildings on Key West and Marathon, they also expect an influx of many more displaced pets in the coming days and weeks.
South Florida’s wild animals need help, too! The South Florida Wildlife Center rescues and rehabilitates the wildlife of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. Hurricanes can flood birds and animals out of nests and burrows, so wildlife rescue efforts are especially critical after storms.
The news images of thousands of Texans escaping the devastating flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey have been heartbreaking. We’ve also seen distressing photos of people carrying their rain-soaked pets through the floodwaters to safety. Sadly, not everyone is able to evacuate with their pets, and not all evacuation centers can accommodate animals.
As we saw with Hurricane Katrina, many pets are displaced during natural disasters. While some are lucky enough to eventually reunite with their owners, others end up in animal shelters across the affected region (and in many cases, across the country) in need of food, shelter, care…and eventually, a new forever home.
What can you do to help pets affected by the hurricane? The Louisiana SPCA provides some valuable advice, based on their experience with Katrina (Louisiana is also expecting flooding from Harvey). As tempting as it is to donate items like food and other pet supplies, sending things that will need to be stored in a flood zone can create serious problems for overwhelmed shelters. The best option? Send monetary donations to local animal welfare organizations like the SPCA of Texas. Austin Pets Alive is also doing great work helping evacuated pets. Sending local shelters some pet store gift cards or fulfilling amazon.com wish lists are also helpful ways to donate effectively.
CLICK HERE to view an informative video from CBS News about post-Hurricane Harvey pet rescue efforts.
Orphaned baby kittens need lots of tender loving care, and Tucson, Arizona’s Pima Animal Care Center has teamed up with the nearby Catalina Springs Memory Care Center in an amazing partnership that benefits both the kittens and the center’s resident seniors. The shelter brings the tiny kittens to be bottle-fed and cared for by the residents.
The heartwarming result? The kittens get lots of love and socialization, making them very adoptable and ready for their future forever homes, and the seniors enjoy cuddling and interacting with their foster fur babies. Check out this adorable video of the program in action!
June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month! Looking to add a new cat or kitten to your family? It’s not too late to visit your local animal shelter or cat rescue organization and adopt a homeless cat or kitten. Scotties Facial Tissues (currently in their 4th year of donating funds to support shelter cat adoption) has posted a very cute video on YouTube, reminding us that there are so many wonderful reasons to adopt a shelter kitty!
Have you ever gotten a message on social media, containing a heartbreaking image of a shelter dog or cat, urging you to donate money immediately to help save its life? The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has issued a fraud alert, warning animal lovers to take a closer look at who is asking for donations before sending any money.
According to the LADA’s website, so-called “animal shelter scammers” could be preying on your compassion. These people will actually visit shelters, take pictures of animals in cages, and then post them on social media, warning people that they are in danger of dying in a “high-kill shelter” unless they receive your money to help rescue them. Sometimes they also use old pictures of shelter animals that they have taken from animal welfare websites around the country.
Besides social media, these images can also be posted on flyers and could be sent to you via email or regular mail. Some scammers will even call you on the phone.
How can well-meaning animal lovers protect themselves from this type of animal rescue scam? The LADA offers the following common-sense tips:
Verify that the organization or person asking you for money is a legitimate 501(C)3 charity. This information should be readily available if the charity is real.
Double check the information on the specific animal. Is it a real animal currently housed in a shelter that is in imminent danger of euthanasia?
If the animal is currently living in a shelter, talk to the shelter directly and ask them what is being done to help the animal. Are they authorizing anyone to solicit funds to save the animal from euthanasia?
Obviously, many legitimate animal welfare non-profits welcome your donation, but they certainly don’t want you to send your money to a 3rd party scammer using images of their animals to cheat you out of your hard-earned cash!
Interested in learning more? The LADA has created a video about animal shelter scams which you can see here: