Pets: Helpless victims of Hurricane Sandy
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Calabrese added that after the snowstorm just nine days after the hurricane, more people came in as temperatures dropped. “They were going to the Red Cross shelter, and they couldn’t take pets there,” she said. “Others found hotels or stayed with family members where they couldn’t take their animals.”
Pet owners could visit their animals regularly at the shelter, and many came to walk them and spend time with them. The facility was staffed with offsite staff, rescue, medical and quality-control personnel from NSALA. “Anyone we could spare,” said Calabrese.
It’s such a relief to have a place for the dogs to be cared for where I know they’re safe,” said Susan Odery, who brought her children and their friends to visit their dogs, Genevieve and Juliet. The Oderys, who had lost their home and most of their possessions when Hurricane Irene struck Long Beach in 2011, were not spared the wrath of Sandy. “Everything on the first floor was destroyed,” said Susan. “Two years in a row, we lost so much.”
All in all, 517 animals came and went through at the Mitchel Field emergency shelter, which is still open and houses 17 dogs and 27 cats that are still separated from their families.
Orphans of the storm
From Oct. 28 to Dec. 5, nearly 400 animals were brought to the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in Wantagh, many of them strays that shelter employees found on the streets or pets that were surrendered by owners who were displaced by the storm. Working closely with the Humane Society of the United States, shelter employees conducted search-and-rescue missions and cared for the stray animals as well as the pets.
“The shelter staff’s commitment and professionalism was an essential part of our successful operation,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director of the Humane Society, “ … which saved the lives of dozens of companion animals affected by the storm.”
“I’m very proud of our entire staff at the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter, as they are receiving the recognition they so rightfully deserve,” said the facility’s director, Cynthia Iacopella, after the Humane Society presented the town with a citation. “It is very much an honor for us to be recognized by the Humane Society of the United States.”