Organizations around the country flock to the rescue of animals amid Florence

While Florence forced humans to evacuate or seek shelter last week, the storm's impacts required the rescue of hundreds of animals. Dozens of organizations, teams and families from around the country came to the rescue throughout the weekend, providing temporary homes and transportation to safer shelters.

Laura Gretch, Frances
Laura Gretch, Frances

Laura Gretch, Humane Rescue Alliance transport manager, holds Frances, an 8 year-old Chihuahua mix as she help unload 26 cats and dogs arriving at Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, from Norfolk Animal Care and Control of Norfolk, Va., in advance of Hurricane Florence. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

One such rescue occurred Friday night, when 123 cats and dogs from the Carteret County Humane Society (CCHS) in Newport, North Carolina, were rescued after flooding trapped the pets and staffers. The shelter had posted a request for help on Twitter Friday evening that the roof of their building was beginning to cave. There were reportedly 80 dogs and 43 cats needing to be evacuated before the Louisiana Cajun Navy arrived.

Following the evacuation, the CCHS was in need of a location to house all the pets. Many residents have posted on the organization's Facebook page that they would be willing to house a few of the pets, while the CCHS also posted that they would need a large warehouse-like facility to hold all the animals. On Friday night, the Carteret County Animal Control Services department shared that the animals and workers were being relocated.

Prior to the storm, animal rescue organizations from around the country flocked to the Carolinas to temporarily house pets from shelters that needed to evacuate. The Big Fluffy Dog Rescue posted on its Facebook page that they had taken in 15 cats and six chihuahuas. Other residents throughout the Carolinas have also taken in pets to open space in shelters. Another group, called Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, transported dozens of pets to Washington D.C., where foster families took them in.

A Jacksonville-based group, the Florida Urgent Rescue, traveled up the coast to help relocate animals to shelters more inland. Mike Merrill, the organization's president, told news sources last week that there were dozens of shelters that needed help and that he'd be heading back to the storm-stricken states after Florence passes to help transport even more animals.

The Lost Dog and Cat Rescue shared last week that they had taken in a number of cats and dogs from Portsmouth, Virginia. Last year, the organization reportedly took in over 300 pets needing shelter after Hurricane Harvey, Maria and Irma.

It's common for animal shelters to be overcrowded during severe storms because normal foster families leave the area and many animals get abandoned by people evacuating. Shelters like the Coastal Animal Rescue were already at maximum capacity before the storm and had to refer owners to local boarding facilities. But to manage the full house, volunteers like Barbara Cook stay at the shelters around the clock.

"It would be senseless for me to say we're not nervous," Cook told before the storm. "But I know we'll have people in and out constantly checking on us. Our volunteers care about what they're doing."