North Shore Animal League pet supply drive

On Sept. 23, Hurricane Ian swept through the southeastern regions of the United States, devastating the state of Florida with life-threatening winds, flooding, and rainfall. It killed more than 100 people in Florida, and resulted in scores of animal deaths and left many others missing. Weeks after the hurricane, animal rescue workers are still finding pets that disappeared during the storm, and attempting to connect them with their owners. The rescue workers have stated that the factors which resulted in human deaths, including late warnings, reluctance to evacuate, and immense storm surge, likely caused the deaths of hundreds of pets as well. 

“It could be they couldn’t get out in time, or they lacked resources to evacuate. What we see is many people will take care of their animals before themselves. Their pet is a family member,” said Lawrence Garcia, the medical director of the Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service team at the University of Florida, in an interview with the Washington Post

The veterinary relief forces were overwhelmed with pet owners requesting help, and with many veterinary offices closed or destroyed, owners are turning to emergency mobile units for help. The veterinary volunteers from the University of Florida stated they treated more than 400 pets, most of which were domesticated animals.

“As stressful as it is for us to go through a hurricane, it can be even more stressful for them,” said Garcia. 

Cats have arrived at shelters with eyes which were so damaged by the falling debris that they needed to be removed. A pet goat was brought to a shelter with white gums, which was a sign of a parasitic infection. Before the storm began, shelters and animal rescue groups relocated as many as 1,000 animals to shelters across the United States, anticipating a huge influx of animals. Shelters in southwest Florida are now full, and in need of supplies to accommodate the general and medical needs of the new population of pets which have been brought to them. 

 As a local response to this disaster, the North Shore Animal League held a pet supply drive for its shelter partners in Florida who were experiencing the impacts of the storm.  Emergency pet supplies were collected by the North Shore Animal League America’s Emergency Rescue Team to be distributed to smaller shelters and citizens in areas hit hardest by the hurricane. 

Since 1944, the North Shore Animal League has saved over millions of animals’ lives, helping to provide proper shelter and medical care, and facilitating adoptions throughout the country.  In the wake of the recent hurricane, they reached out to those within the tri-state region for donations.  From Thursday, Sept. 29 to Saturday, Oct. 1, they collected essential supplies: bottled water, paper towels, kitty litter, new litter boxes, cat food, sponges, new cat and dog beds, bleach and anti-bacterial wipes, garbage bags, pet treats, and new (or very gently used) towels and blankets for Hurricane Ian victims. 

These donations were sent out through a mobile unit on Oct. 2 and were distributed in collaboration with Pinellas County Animal Services in Clearwater, Florida, the North Shore Animal League’s longtime shelter partner.  They also spread the donations to smaller local shelters and those in affected areas, as well as working with Barkfield Road, a pet supply store in East Northport, to distribute meals for animals.  After the supplies were distributed in Florida, rescued animals were brought into a mobile unit headed for Long Island, freeing up necessary shelter space.