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Hurricane Ian Animals

Stranded cat
Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue
Stranded cat

The big news this week was Hurricane Ian, which raged into the gulf, hitting the west coast of Florida.  It crossed the state, moved into the Atlantic Ocean, then hooked back toward Georgia and South Carolina.  In advance of the storm, millions of people were urged to evacuate; gratefully many took their furry friends with them.  Animal welfare organizations, like the ASPCA, helped evacuate shelter animals, some were relocated as far away as New York and Boston.

     What about non-pet animals?  Zoos and wildlife sanctuaries in Florida have some provisions for storms, based on prior experience with hurricanes.  ZooTampa has buildings they call “night houses”, made of masonry blocks, that are attached to the animals’ habitats.  Those animals can be moved into their safe places to protect them during the storm.  At the same time, the staff checked to make sure all their generators were functioning to keep the animals’ food from spoiling.

     In advance of the storm, many animal shelters in other states received adoptable pets from Florida shelters in the path of the storm.  Not only did that get the shelter animals out of harm’s way, it also opened up space in the Florida shelters to receive and care for rescued stray and injured animals in the aftermath of the storm.  Some animal rescue organizations, including the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, are sending teams into the disaster area to assist with animal rescue. 

     Disasters like Hurricane Ian should remind all of us to make sure our furry friends always have identification – a microchip, a collar with a tag, or both – and keep that information up-to-date.  The thought of a pet lost and living in fear in a bleak and hostile environment in the aftermath of a disaster may break your heart, but let it remind you to do what you can now to keep your own best friend safe, whatever blows your way, when you’re speaking of pets.

Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.