Hurricane present unique challenges for pet rescue agencies
by Kathleen Lees
Nov 07, 2012 | 6505 views | 1 1 comments | 62 62 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As Sandy set in, hurricane shelters across the city crowded with people whose homes were damaged or even destroyed by the storm. But for evacuated pet owners, seeking refuge presented a unique set of challenges.

Steve Gruber, a spokesperson for the Mayor's Alliance for New York City Animals, said the number of pet owners throughout the city that took refuge in hurricane shelters had hit approximately 200.

“A lot of people lost their homes in this crisis,” Gruber said.

According to statistics provided by the Mayor's Alliance, 41 pets from Brooklyn, 9 from the Bronx, 13 from Manhattan, 51 from Queens and 84 from Staten Island had been taken to hurricane shelters in the city with their owners.

However, Gruber stressed that hurricane shelters are not the optimal place for pets to go during these times because of limited space.

Many pet rescue centers and animal organizations across the city were helping to house pets whose owners lost their homes, as well as pets that were abandoned.

Charles Henderson, founder of the Charles Henderson Animal Rescue, said since Sandy set in, more than 30 volunteers had given their time to help with displaced, discarded and temporarily housed animals.

“People have really stepped up,” Henderson said. “People have called because they can't get into work. They want to know if the animals are okay and how they can help out. Things like this bring out the best in us.”

Melanie Sheer, a local resident, is one of the regular volunteers at the Charles Henderson Animal Rescue in Brooklyn. The owner of a Shih Tzu, Sheer said “I thought, ‘I can't get to work,’ so I wanted to help out more.”

Even with help, the increase in animals brought to shelters is difficult to keep up with.

“We're getting an extremely high volume of calls,” said Sean Casey, founder of the Sean Casey Animal Rescue.

Casey said that a discarded mother cat that had just given birth had been brought in to the shelter with her litter, along with two Cocker Spaniels from a family in Broad Channel, whose home and work place had been completely destroyed.

“In a crisis situation, people might not know what to do with their pets when they've lost everything,” Casey said, whose shelter is located at 153 East 3rd Street Brooklyn. “We try to help.”

Although many rescue centers are opening their arms to new animals, some cannot afford to give up shelter space.

The Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition (BARC), located at 253 Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, said despite the increase in phone calls for pets displaced or discarded by the hurricane - mostly cats - they could no longer accept any new animals due to the limited space available at the no-kill animal shelter.

“It's sad, but we're just completely full,” said an employee.

Gruber said it was important to license and microchip all dogs and put collars on cats.

“It can help to reunite owners with pets, especially when things like this happen,” he said.

If you know of any animals that have been discarded or displaced from the storm, Gruber says call the Animal Planning Task Force emergency hotline at (347)-573-1561.

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November 08, 2012
The saddest part is NYACC runs high kill shelters, and people who have no homes because they have been displaced may not be able to take their dogs because of Breed laws. I think in situations like this Breed laws need to be temporarily suspended so people don't lose family members after losing so much already.