Dozens of strays and surrendered pets from the hurricane-ravaged Carolinas are headed up to New Jersey, while hundreds of pounds of pet food, cat litter and other supplies donated by Garden State animal lovers will be on their way down, animal welfare officials said.
The Monmouth County SPCA has already received 20 dogs from various shelters in North and South Carolina that were flooded, lost power or otherwise damaged by Hurricane Florence, said Lindsay Sanator, media and marketing coordinator for the Monmouth SPCA.
The animals being moved to New Jersey from the Carolinas had already been in shelters prior to the storm, through the usual process of having been picked up as strays by animal control officers or surrendered by owners who could no longer care for them, Sartor said. All will be available for adoptions in New Jersey, at the SPCA’s shelter at 260 Wall Street in Eatontown.
“None of the animals that we’re taking have been displaced because of the storm,” she said, “because we didn’t want to be taking any animals whose owners might be looking for them afterwards.”
Sanator said two trucks outfitted to carry animals will head down to the Carolinas over the next few days to retrieve as least 30 more dogs from other shelters in the region.
In addition, Monmouth SPCA has been collecting donations of food and other pet supplies that will be hauled down to the region to assist shelters inundated by the storm surge or heavy rains.
“If dog food or cat litter gets wet, it’s basically useless,” Sanator said.
More than 1,000 pounds of dry dog food and 200 boxes of supplies had been dropped off at the SPCA shelter and delivered by Amazon after being purchased by donors from a wish list available on the shelter’s web site.
The Monmouth SPCA is a member of the Emergency Replacement Partner Program of the Humane Society of the United States, which links shelters and animal welfare agencies nationwide to coordinate responses to disasters.
“We help the shelters in the disaster areas by placing the animals in other shelters around the country,” said Brian Hackett, the Humane Society’s New Jersey state director.
Hackett said other participants in the network include the Animal Welfare Association of Camden County in Voorhees, the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter in Bridgewater, and the St. Huberts Animal Welfare Center, a network of facilities based in Madison.
“It’s quite a process making sure everyone is comfortable, all paperwork is in order and all travel crates are properly secured for the journey,” St. Huberts posted on its web site on Monday, when 23 dogs “and 2 kitties” from the Carolinas were lodged at the Madison shelter.
Hackett said interstate relief efforts like the current one served two main functions: to provide alternative quarters and adoption opportunities for animals whose shelters have been incapacitated by a disaster, crucial in regions where adopting a pet is all the more difficult for humans also impacted; and to relieve pressure on local shelters that continue to operate during a disaster — or are trying to reopen as soon as possible — that must deal with a rapid influx of newly displaced animals as a result of that hurricane, flood or other blow.
If there is an animal welfare silver lining to natural disasters, Hackett said, it’s that the higher profile that those displaced animals achieve makes it that much more likely they will be adopted, and that the plight of lost, abandoned and surrendered dogs and cats is more widely recognized by the potentially adopting public.
“I think the animals that are transported or rescued during the disaster situations, they embody the hope of people to recover, to rebuild, to come together,” Hackett said. “They put a spotlight on all of the animals around the country who are in need of homes.”