I wanted to give you a quick update on our work for the animals in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Last Monday, as the storm was blowing through, our field ops manager Eric and I drove down to assess the hardest hit areas in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
After visiting more than a dozen communities and a dozen shelters we have learned that, in addition to the Search and Rescue work in the field, the greatest need right now is for animal rescuers to work together to move animals out of these devastated communities to our partner rescues in the Northeast.
Last night, I drove back with a van load of animals from Manatee Animal Services, one of the most overburdened shelters we visited in Florida. Mary here was one they were desperate for us us to save. She was the victim of a cruelty case and has spent the last 10 months at Manatee Animal Services. After all she’s been through, this storm could not be the end of the line for Mary. By taking her and the others, we helped free up immediate space there to make room for others still pouring in from the field.
It’s so sad- so many people are put into a situation where they have to surrender their beloved pets because of the hurricanes. Their homes are destroyed- uninhabitable. They have nowhere to go.
What happens during disasters of this magnitude is that post-storm, a massive influx of displaced animals pour into local shelters. Most all of these shelters are already over-capacity when the storm hits. That’s why we must help to move as many animals as we can out of overcrowded shelters.
To date, Brother Wolf has helped transport 173 dogs and cats out of Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina and now Florida to our rescue partners up north – with another 50 animals preparing to leave shortly. We are so grateful to our partners for being willing to help these animals in a time of crisis.
As you can imagine, coordinating a large scale rescue takes lots of work. Our Adoption Center Manager, Audrey and her team have worked days, nights, and weekends through Harvey and Irma, organizing these large transports. They’re saving a lot of lives and making a huge impact by helping ease the burden on these southern shelters.
Eric is still there in Florida working Search and Rescue. As I write, he just texted an urgent update on a neighborhood in Bonita Springs, FL, still very flooded:
“We just rescued this little guy from a flooded neighborhood in Bonita Springs. I’m on a boat with a Latino woman who doesn’t speak any English and I don’t speak any Spanish, but she’s got a great love for cats. Rosa and her family have four feet of water in their home – they lost everything. But she’s out here helping to rescue cats.”
We’ll keep you posted on Eric’s Search and Rescue work over the weekend. In the meantime, if you have not yet had a chance to donate to our Rapid Response Fund, please consider making a small donation today to help offset the costs of Search and Rescue, and the costs of transporting animals like Mary to our partner shelters up north to begin their new lives.
Thank you- this is heartbreaking work, but the animals and the shelter workers there are so grateful for our help. It’s your support that makes it all possible.
For the animals,
Denise Bitz, Founder and President
Brother Wolf Animal Rescue
PS. Heartfelt thanks to all who have signed up to volunteer for our Rapid Response team. We’re planning to offer a full-day training session on Search and Rescue work in the next month or so. If you’re interested and not yet signed up, email us at RapidResponse@bwar.org.