Hurricane Sandy and a Nor’easter did more than displace residents and flatten houses last week. In addition to the human refugees from the storm, hundreds of animals have been hurt, lost, or left behind in the disaster. Some shelters, such as the North Shore Animal League America, are stepping up to board animals that must be separated from their owners and provide medical care for many others. This large no-kill shelter has taken in overflow from shelters that have been forced to evacuate, and are currently housing over 600 animals available for adoption. “Our hearts go out to those currently struggling with losses in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and we will continue to be here to help,” says League president John Stevenson.


Other events such as the yearly Four Legged Food Drive are focusing on providing food and other animal care items to displaced families with pets and shelters. FLFD is a local effort in Montclair, New Jersey, and the food drive will be running in full swing through January. St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center based in Madison has converted itself into a regional distribution center since the storm, facilitating and distributing large donations of pet supplies. If you don’t live near New Jersey, you can still help out by sending St. Hubert’s money or gift cards for pet stores which will be distributed to families in need (link).


Pets are often the unseen casualties of disasters. Those that aren’t abandoned or lost during the initial chaos may be tearfully given to shelters as the family can no longer support them. Residents of the Gulf Coast experienced this during Hurricane Katrina. Some people chose to stay home in order to be with their animals–and some may have died because of it, says said Tim Rickey of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


After Katrina, FEMA put together the 2006 Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act. The PETS Act required local and state governments to include plans for pets in their emergency procedures and allowed FEMA funds to be put toward animal welfare in disaster areas. These rules have made it much easier for families to take their pets with them to temporary shelters.


For those that weren’t so lucky, please consider adopting or fostering a rescue animal as we come together to rebuild.