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October 31, 2012

On the Ground to Care for Animals Affected by Hurricane Sandy

The images of the devastation wrought by Sandy, especially on Long Island and on the New Jersey coast, are firmly fixed in our minds. While the hurricane itself has moved on, communities are still very much in the throes of dealing with its terrible effects. So many lives are turned upside down, and that includes animals.

Today, our HSUS Animal Rescue Team staff, along with disaster-trained volunteers, are in New York and New Jersey to help animals in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. In Monmouth County, N.J., our staff members are on-site at an emergency animal shelter, and more are on their way to help care for animals there. PetSmart Charities is donating essential pet supplies for Monmouth County. In Nassau County on Long Island, N.Y., we’ll be helping to care for animals at another emergency shelter where evacuating families brought their pets before the storm. Both areas were hit hard by the hurricane, and we expect to see more people and pets in need in the coming days, especially with more than 6 million people still having no power and with many communities flooded and uninhabitable for the near future.

In New Jersey, a large percentage of the evacuees are senior citizens or have disabilities, so we’re especially glad that we’re able to help care for their pets, including some dogs with special medical needs. And in both locations, the evacuation shelter for people is located right near the pet shelter, so that families can visit their pets and the animals can see a familiar face.

Rescued storm petrel at Cape Wildlife Center
A rare storm petrel recovering at Cape Wildlife Center.

In New York City, The HSUS’s Patrick Kwan, Brian Shapiro, and Michelle Icahn have all served at the city’s hurricane operations center helping to coordinate response to meet the needs of pets and pet owners, as well as advocating for pets and their owners, and Patrick is taking calls on the 24-hour hotline established to report pets left behind after evacuations (347-573-1561). We urge evacuees who were unable to bring their pets with them before Hurricane Sandy hit to call this hotline (hosted by the New York City's Office of Emergency Management Animal Planning Task Force) for assistance with reuniting with their animals.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, Hurricane Sandy’s winds blew an unusual species to our Cape Wildlife Center—a storm petrel, one of the rarest and smallest seabirds in the United States. Last night, a rescuer found the bird close to shore, upside-down and struggling in the water. Cape Wildlife Center staff stabilized the small petrel overnight, then set up a special habitat in a saltwater-filled bathtub until the animal is well enough to move to the center’s 3,500-gallon saltwater aviary. The bird is underweight and exhausted, but otherwise healthy, and we hope to be able to return the animal to the wild after recovery.

This was an enormous and deadly storm, and we’ll all be dealing with its negative impact upon people and animals for weeks and months to come. You can find the latest news about our Hurricane Sandy deployment on our Twitter feed, and I hope you’ll help support our disaster relief efforts. Or you can donate $10 to our Disaster Relief Fund by texting ANIMALS to 20222 (message and data rates apply).

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