Natural Disasters……What they Mean for Pet Owners Everywhere

At the time of this writing, Hurricane Irma has devastated islands in the Caribbean, made landfall in Florida and is moving into Georgia to wreak havoc there. Harvey has already done its destruction in Texas but the societal aftershocks will be felt for years. We hear constant reports on radio, TV and online. Loss of lives, property and infrastructure destruction are all part of these catastrophic events. Hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee their homes unaware of when and to what they wil return. But what of the thousands of pets that will be separated from their families, left behind in a matter of life or death or just disappear into the rubble and remains? Truly it is a sad tale. To lose property is difficult enough but to lose family and friends, be they two or four legged, can inflict everlasting hurt.

So what can we do? Some of us will work on a disaster relief team, others will make donations of food, clothing or money and those so moved will volunteer working with pets that have been separated from their home or families. The sad reality is that many stranded pets will never be reunited with their humans. Stray dog and cat populations are bound to increase in the near future and the need for rehoming will be even greater than the extraordinary circumstance after Hurricane Katrina.

Here in New England we have had, so far, a quiet tropical storm season. Hopefully it will stay that way. However, I encourage everyone to find the outlet that best suits you in supporting your fellow pet owners. A quick online search for “pet disaster relief” yields many humane organizations that are supporting the effort during this time of extreme need. Take some time to read about them and choose one that you think best fits your philosophy. During the next one to three years there will be a significantly increased demand for homes for pets that have been separated from their previous family. It happened after Katrina and Sandy and will most certainly occur after this year. The humane or rescue pet network will target New England as is common to solicit our help in rehoming hundreds if not thousands of orphaned pets. We are a region of pet lovers who frequently have a demand for pets that outstrips the local supply.

So whether through action, donation, pet adoption or moral support, know that pets (and their owners) need your help now. Perhaps more than ever before, it’s time to give to pets in need as they constantly give to us.