Pets displaced by Irma need a place to stay. So 100 other cats and dogs hit the road

ASPCA transfers displaced dogs from Hurricane Irma to their safe shelter in South Carolina

The ASPCA relocated 100 dogs and cats from a Miami-Dade Animal Services shelter in Doral to an emergency shelter in South Carolina to make way for pet owners impacted by Hurricane Irma.
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The ASPCA relocated 100 dogs and cats from a Miami-Dade Animal Services shelter in Doral to an emergency shelter in South Carolina to make way for pet owners impacted by Hurricane Irma.

A convoy of canines and kitties is on the road from Miami-Dade to Duncan, South Carolina.

On Wednesday, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals relocated 100 unowned shelter animals from Miami-Dade Animal Services’ Pet Adoption and Protection Center in Doral to a 40,000-square-foot ASPCA emergency shelter about 730 miles away in Duncan.

More: How to protect your pet during a hurricane

The 12-hour or so road trip — not counting stops for dog walks and bathroom breaks — to South Carolina’s Spartanburg County became necessary when the local shelter, already swelled with animals before Hurricane Irma, needed to free up space and resources for owned pets that were displaced by the storm. Still more might come into shelters temporarily as pet owners find they need a quick breather to regroup and recover, especially for those who have damage to their homes or other pressing needs.

“We anticipate shelters will see an increase in the number of lost pets that will need temporary housing until they are reunited with their families, as well as owned pets that will need care as people assess damage and need help in caring for their pets until they’re back on their feet,” said Alyssa Fleck, ASPCA manager.

“Hurricane Irma has caused significant and widespread damage throughout the state of Florida and has impacted the lives of both people and their pets,” added Dick Green, senior director of Disaster Response for ASPCA Field Investigations and Response.

Wednesday morning, the team from ASPCA ushered dogs with tails a’-waggin’ and cats — oh so apprehensive — into protective orange carrier crates, loaded them into a Rescue Ride bus, and prepped for the voyage. The animals traveled to South Carolina in one of the ASPCA’s transport vehicles regularly used for their relocation program.

The ASPCA has aided in previous animal transfers after Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the eastern coast and New Jersey in 2012, as well as the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, and Hurricane Harvey in Texas in August.

Chris Broughton from ASPCA lifts one of the dogs onto a Rescue Ride heading to a Duncan, South Carolina, animal shelter. C.M. GUERRERO

In addition to the South Carolina facility, some of Miami’s animals could also relocate to partner shelters throughout the country, Fleck said.

“In some areas in the south there is an overpopulation of homeless animals and many shelters have an influx of animals they are not able to adopt out as quickly as some in the north,” she said. “There are some shelters in the north that can take them in because they have more space and a higher rate of adoption.”

While pet owners can contact their local emergency management agency and shelters if they are in a bind, Fleck urges that precaution before storms is paramount.

“We always want to stress that if you ever do have to evacuate, please bring your pet with you and supplies you’ll need for five to seven days,” she said. “We’re committed to being on the ground in Florida assisting animals and pet owners.”

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen

Disaster Preparedness for Pets

The ASPCA offers a free mobile app that allows pet owners to store crucial pet records needed for boarding pets at evacuation shelters. The app also includes a disaster preparedness checklist.

You can download the ASPCA Mobile App here.