Hurricane Irma left thousands of people homeless, downed power lines and scattered trees for miles. Also left wandering helplessly on the streets of South Florida: pets.
In an effort to help reunite lost pets with their owners, Miami-Dade Animal Services has extended the waiting time given to dogs and cats found on the street so that they can be picked up by their owners.
Instead of the normal three days, the waiting period is now six days for owners to claim their pets. After that, the animals will be put up for adoption, said Lilián Bohórquez, a department spokeswoman.
Bohórquez said that owners who have lost pets must go to the county shelter at 3599 NW 79th Ave. to check whether their animals have been found. Pets are brought in almost daily.
It is common for pets to flee and get lost during times of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, Bohórquez said. However, pet owners who had to evacuate and left their dog tied to trees or posts will have a more difficult time retrieving their pets.
In a special rescue operation over the weekend — thanks to a partnership between FedEx, Direct Relief, Miami-Dade Animal Services, the Miami Heat and the Golden State Warriors — more than 100 animals were transported west to find new homes.
“The goal is to make room in the shelters for the pets displaced by the storm and give time to families to reach the shelters to find their lost pets,” said a statement on the transfer of pets.
Those interested in adopting pets also should visit the shelter.
Follow Johanna A. Álvarez on Twitter: @jalvarez8.