Last week people all over Louisiana make preparations for Hurricane Ida, the most intense hurricane to hit the state since Hurricane Katrina. When the storm made landfall this weekend it caused widespread structural damage, power blackouts and four deaths.
Many people in Ida’s path evacuated to safety — and so, too, did hundreds of shelter animals, who were transported out of the state thanks to a nationwide effort to get them out of harm’s way.
A number of shelters across the country arranged to transport and take in rescue pets who had been in Louisiana shelters — both to get them out of the storm path, and to free up space for the inevitable influx of pets displaced from their homes by the hurricane.
“Evacuating animals in the path of disasters is a lifesaving aspect of emergency response efforts because it gives homeless animals a second chance while freeing up resources for potentially displaced pets in impacted communities,” Susan Anderson, Director of Disaster Response for the ASPCA National Field Response Team, told FOX 29.
Doing so required an immense effort, and shelters and animal groups around the US took these animals in.
According to FOX 29, 100 pets were transported from Tangipahoa Parish Animal Shelter, 45 minutes outside New Orleans, all the way to the Brandywine SPCA in New Castle, Delaware, thanks to a Wings of Rescue flight sponsored by Petco Love and the ASPCA.
The Helen Woodward Animal Center, in California, also took in dozens of Louisiana rescues who arrived by flight.
“In Louisiana and Mississippi, they were maxed out to capacity! Kennels were full and kennels were lining hallways,” Jessica Gercke, the shelter’s PR coordinator, told KFMB. “Due to Hurricane Ida, they had to evacuate.”
The flight was sponsored by the nonprofit group Greater Good Charities, who reached out to the Animal Center for help. They saw the situation in Louisiana as a life-or-death situation for many of these animals.
“One of the Louisiana shelters is under construction, so their current temporary location is on local fairgrounds in the cow stalls,” Erin Robbins, director of the group’s pet transport program, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“They are literally outside with a hurricane on its way.”
“This is one of those moments when animal rescue really becomes a life-saving mission,” Hella Tyler, adoption services director from Helen Woodward Animal Center, said according to People. “Without a place to put these dogs and cats, many of these orphan pets would face a tragic end. We couldn’t say no.”
Operation Kindness, an animal shelter in North Texas, also did their part to help save the pets from the storm. They took in 51 pets from Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter, located in the hurricane’s path.
“Our team is caring for any medical needs they have, while making sure they have a soft bed and a full belly,” Operation Kindness wrote on Facebook.
The shelters are now trying hard to find homes — either forever homes or foster care — so they can continue their rescue efforts, transporting even more cats and dogs out of the Louisiana storm zone.
“Greater Good Charities said they would be willing to bring out another plane and get more animals to bring out if we can get 100 more foster families,” Jessica Gercke told the Union-Tribune. “Essentially, fostering would provide space for two animals because it will get an animal into a home and then open a spot in the shelter for another animal.”
There are some signs of good news: Operation Kindness has already gotten two of their evacuees adopted, according to Facebook updates.
It’s always inspiring to shelters take such action to help animals in need, even when they’re all the way across the country.