If you think that the very idea of going through a major hurricane is frightening, imagine what it must feel like to be an animal and have to go through the same thing. That’s exactly what is happening to literally hundreds of dogs and cats that are at different rescue facilities in places like the Carolinas and Virginia. It’s not always possible to evacuate large shelters full of animals before an event like this strikes, even when there are several days ahead of time that people are aware of the issue.
Part of the problem is the fact that there is a huge issue involving logistics when it comes to moving that many animals. It’s hard enough to evacuate people from an area when they’re able to understand why they need to leave and where they need to go. Even when people are more than capable of getting in an automobile and driving themselves out of the area, it still becomes a major issue to get them to actually do it. Now imagine what it would be like to have a facility that houses dogs and cats in the hundreds and there’s nowhere else to go. That’s exactly the type of problem that these facilities are facing.
Part of the issue involves transportation. It simply isn’t feasible to put that many animals in a vehicle and transport them through some type of ground transport. It would take dozens upon dozens of large automobiles and in an area where they’re already having trouble evacuating people, this is not something that is a viable possibility. By the same token, it’s not always possible to get a dedicated aircraft into the area in order to load up all of the animals and then fly them to safety. Bad weather before the actual hurricane hits is a major factor, as is the availability of such aircraft. Imagine how many it would take to pull this off. Of course, cost is the biggest prohibited factor when it comes to such rescue operations for animals.
You have to remember, the overwhelming majority of these animal shelters operate on shoestring budgets, barely able to pay their bills in some cases. They usually go from month to month and they rely on donations to buy much of the food and supplies that the animals need. More often than not, the overwhelming majority of their staff exist on a volunteer basis. In some cases, almost everyone is a volunteer as opposed to being a paid staff member. Therefore, it only stands to reason that there just isn’t enough money to pay for flights to a safer location when there is a very real possibility that there might not be enough money to buy food for the animals or pay the electric bill the next month.
You also have to wonder where the animals would be taken even if it were possible to fly them out. In the United States, almost every animal shelter is operating over capacity. There aren’t enough facilities for the animals that are already in those areas, so a large influx of animals coming from another area would only serve to exacerbate the problem. When you put all of these issues together, it becomes virtually impossible to even consider moving the animals. Granted, there wouldn’t be a choice if it was an issue like a wildfire but in the instance of a hurricane, most people in these types of situations feel that their best course of action is to shelter in place with the animals.
It’s important that you really pay attention to that last statement. The overwhelming majority of the time, it’s not just the animals that are enduring the hurricane. There are people that are so dedicated to their care, they absolutely refuse to leave because they won’t leave the animals behind. That means that these dedicated individuals are riding out the storm right there alongside the cats and dogs that are in the shelters.
Obviously, the shelters have taken every precaution they possibly can. This usually involves placing sandbags around the facilities, ensuring that everything is buttoned-up and secured as best as possible, and doing their best to comfort the frightened animals that are inside. There’s no doubt that it’s a trying and potentially dangerous time for everyone. That’s why it’s so important to make people aware of what these animals go through when a natural disaster happens, as well as the people who choose to ride it out with them.