Palm Beach County officials are reporting that area evacuees abandoned dozens of pets while attempting to escape oncoming Hurricane Irma. As reported by the Sun Sentinel newspaper, Palm Beach animal control found 49 dogs left behind across the county. Some of them were tied up, some locked in pens, and others simply left in yards with fences.
It doesn’t take much imagination to foresee what would happen to animals left behind in a hurricane.
In addition to those animals abandoned across the county, people also left pets behind with local shelters. Animal control reported upwards of 60 dogs and cats were also surrendered at shelters as people fled the area on Thursday and Friday ahead of Hurricane Irma.
It’s not clear if evacuees who abandoned their pets were aiming to permanently surrender their family pets, or if they believe they can return to retrieve them after the storm dies down. “They won’t be able to reclaim their pets when they return,” the director of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, Dianne Suave, told the Sun Sentinel. “We are pretty clear when you surrender your animal you give up your rights,” said Suave. In addition, anyone found to abandon an animal could face felony animal-cruelty charges.
Florida’s emergency management division advises that families with pets not abandon their animals. Disaster preparedness information is abundant online. Resources are readily available from Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, CDC, ASPCA, and many others, all clearly outlining different ways to make sure family pets have as much chance as possible to survive foreseen emergencies. Since Katrina, in fact, an act of Congress was created to ensure that pet evacuation plans are created and managed by state and local authorities along with FEMA, which only underlines how important it is for people to prepare for their pets in the first place.
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