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The hurricane season of 2017 was a devastating one, with significant storms hitting land in Puerto Rico, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. When a hurricane makes land, the toll it takes on people is significant. Fatalities, injuries, damaged property, displacement, loss of energy, food shortage, road closures. While the price people pay is steep, hurricanes also affect pets. Especially for dogs and young puppies.
Without the introduction of fierce winds and heavy rainfall, there are already a large number of dogs that are either stray or occupying shelters and rescues throughout the United States. Animal homelessness is a sad and devastating problem in the United States, and once you throw a natural disaster on top of that the problem gets even worse.
Keep reading to understand how animals are affected by hurricanes, and how you can help organizations in their efforts to assist animals affected by hurricanes.
Animal homelessness is an issue that simply doesn’t get enough attention. The stats on animal homelessness are striking. For every homeless person in the US, there are 5 homeless animals. Even more tragic, only about 1 in 10 dogs that are born find a permanent home. What causes animal homelessness? There are a few different reasons animal homelessness has gotten so bad in the United States, but one of the biggest contributors is unplanned or accidental pregnancies. When pet owners don’t spay or neuter their puppies, pregnancies are bound to happen. It’s always recommended that pet owners get their puppies spayed or neutered at around six months of age.l,
What Happens to Dogs During Hurricanes?
When severe hurricanes make landfall, people are forced to leave them homes and seek shelter away from the storm. Some pet owners are able to take their pets with them when they evacuate, but other pets are left behind to fend for themselves. While it may seem foolish to leave your pet behind during a storm, it’s important to remember that some pet owners have no choice. Some don’t have the room in their vehicles for their pets or are staying in hotels that don’t allow pets. Sometimes pet owners even refuse to evacuate because they want to stay behind and ride out the storm with their pets, putting themselves and their pets in danger. A Washington Post poll in 2006 found that 44% of people who did not evacuate Hurricane Katrina did so because they did not want to abandon their pets.
During the hash hurricane conditions, many pets fall victim to flooding, or have to leave their homes to escape rising water levels. With the high winds and flooding, dogs and cats become disoriented and struggle to find their way home. In the tragic event that their owner passes away during the storm, dogs are left without an owner to take care of them after a hurricane.
When lost pets or orphaned dogs and cats are found and brought into shelters and rescues, they join an already overloaded roster of lost pets. These already overworked and crowded shelters and rescues simply don’t have the space and resources to care for all of the newly admitted pets the hurricane made homeless. Hurricane Harvey alone caused thousands of dogs and cats to become lost or orphaned.
How Puppies Are Affected By Hurricanes
As we discussed in the previous section, it can be a challenge for people to evacuate with their dogs. That challenge becomes even more difficult if a dog recently gave birth to some puppies. Puppies need to be with their mothers when they’re young, and with a litter of five or six puppies, pet owners face a significant logistical problem in evacuating the mother and her brood of pups. Breeders face the same issue during a hurricane. Dog breeders care for dozens of dogs at a time, and often have very young puppies to look after. If the location of their breeding property is within the reach of the storm, evacuating all of the dogs and puppies safely is difficult.
How Can You Help Dogs Affected by Hurricanes?
While the hardships that animals face during hurricanes are sad, there are a tremendous number of groups and organizations that are dedicating their passion for animals, compassionate hearts, and time to helping animals affected by hurricanes either return to their families or find new homes.
Do you want to join the fight to help out the affected animals? Here is a list of organizations we recommend volunteering your time to help or donating money to assist funding their important work.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties