Storm troopers are getting a whole new image.
Many may know storm troopers as Darth Vader’s white-clad lackeys with horrible aim, but to Florida’s Jacksonville Humane Society (JHS), Storm Troopers are heroes.
Storm Troopers are what the shelter calls the amazing volunteers who open their homes to the JHS’s adoptable cats and dogs when dangerous weather threatens the shelter.
“The JHS Storm Trooper program allows families to bring home dogs, cats and kittens for sleepovers during severe weather. Families serve as ‘Storm Troopers’ and host one of our adoptable dogs or cats for a temporary sleepover. This is a great opportunity for our pets to be with a family inside a warm home instead of in a shelter kennel during the winds and rain,” the shelter said of the program on their website.
On August 31, Jacksonville Humane Society put the call out for Storm Troopers ahead of Hurricane Dorian’s arrival in the U.S.
According to CNN, the shelter needed to find homes for about 250 cats and dogs before Hurricane Dorian arrived at Florida’s east coast. In just three days, every animal had been picked up and evacuated to a safe foster home, a peaceful, caring environment to ride out the storm.
“You did it, Jacksonville! Thanks to you, nearly all of our pets will ride out Hurricane Dorian in loving Storm Trooper foster homes. Your response to our call for help was tremendous, and we can’t thank everyone enough for their generosity and support. We feel so incredibly lucky to be a part of such a kind, compassionate community,” the shelter wrote in a Sept. 2 Facebook post.
“Any animals who remain at the shelter (for example, those with special medical needs) will be cared for by JHS staff and all measures will be taken to ensure their safety and comfort,” JHS added.
Along with providing shelter pets a calm space to endure a storm, the Storm Trooper program has plenty of additional perks.
“Spending time with families gives us a wealth of information that we cannot gather in the shelter. We often do not know if our pets are good with other animals, comfortable around children, enjoy going to car rides, like trips to the beach, are fully house-trained, etc. However – a foster family can provide that information! It helps the pets find new homes upon their return much faster than before,” JHS said of short-term foster situations.
It’s also common for Storm Troopers to adopt their furry stowaways after the storm passes, or find the shelter pet a permanent home with a family member or friend.
The program protects pets outside the JHS family too. With a clear shelter, JHS can open their facilities to animals displaced, injured or lost during a storm and help other shelters affected by hurricanes.
While JHS has all the Storm Troopers they need for Hurricane Dorian, they want to be prepared for the next bit of bad weather. Storm Troopers are provided with all the materials (food, litter, leashes, crates) they need to care for their fosters free of charge when they pick up the pet from JHS. To learn more about the program and how you can help, visit Jacksonville Humane Society’s website.