New York and New Jersey animal shelters are gearing up for new Southern arrivals after the catastrophic landfall of Hurricane Ida, which caused over $50 million in local damage according NY Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Ida first hit Louisiana on August 29 as a Cat. 4 hurricane with winds up to 150 miles per hour. Continuing its path of destruction to the northeast, the then-weakened storm nearly 50 lives due to destructive tornados, flash floods and record rain throughout the region.
Given the widespread destruction, animal shelters from across the tri-state sprung into action.
North Shore Animal League America, in Port Washington, has received over 50 dogs from partnering shelters, according to the announcement last week via Facebook. One of those animals being a pregnant mother, delivering 5 puppies at the Long Island rescue.
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Earlier this month, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center assisted in bringing in over 70 animals from a Greater Good Charities flight from Lafayette, Louisiana, to Morristown, New Jersey.
The behind-the-scenes rescue process may not be what you would expect. Instead of directly sending individual rescue teams, New York and New Jersey shelters will team up to create a joint plan.
"In this instance, we reached out to our friends at Best Friends who were organizing a transport from Louisiana and Mississippi up to the New York area. Got on board with how many animals we can take, and just received 8 dogs under the age of 1 arrive at our shelter," said Leslie Granger, President & CEO of Bideawee.
Bideawee is scheduled to rescue 14 more dogs from Louisiana next week, bringing the total to 22 from that region.
Given shelters may already be overwhelmed before a natural disaster, it is first taken into consideration to empty those strays and get those ready for transport before bringing in newcomers from a storm.
"We learned it was culturally sensitive. It's also the smartest thing to do, and it's one thing we learned from Hurricane Katrina. Pets arriving in California that were microchipped had pet parents searching all over," Maya Richmond, Executive Director at Animal Welfare Association, told NBC New York.
Next, a state of emergency must be declared by a large-scale organization, such as the ASPCA, which would be invited in to do additional rescue work.
Rather than transport animals to the New York facility, the ASPCA has deployed a disaster response team to conduct water and land rescues throughout south Louisiana. The agency will mobilize an emergency shelter in Knoxville, Tennessee, to provide housing and care.
"We expect the emergency shelter to house up to 60 animals at a time and will continue to work with external partners to place these animals in safe, loving homes across the country," said Tim Rickey, Vice President of ASPCA National Field Response to NBC New York.
In addition to emergency shelter services, the ASPCA has assisted in transporting over 150 homeless animals. The pets transported to tri-state shelters will undergo exams for medical issues, such as heartworm, giardia and wounds.
"Shelters do their best to disclose everything [medical information] that they can given the timeline. Sometimes there are going to be medical or behavioral situations that we discover later on, and that ultimately is something we accept," Irene Borngraeber, Executive Director at Liberty Humane Society, told NBC New York.
At one Jersey City location, the kennel has been undergoing renovations, leaving Borngraeber and team to heavily rely on the foster care system. Post-Ida, this shelter has received about 10 dogs.
If you cannot afford the money or time commitment for animal adoption but want to help, here are a few things you can do:
1. Check your local shelter's website to see if there is a wish list for supplies. Some more popular asks are crates, carriers, pee pads and food.
2. Try fostering an animal in need, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic when shelters are experiencing staff shortages. Fostering provides a way to have the benefits of housing a dog or cat but not necessarily taking on the full lifelong commitment. Plus, you are helping out an at-risk pet.
3. Monetarily donate to your rescue. The costs of spaying, neutering or emergency surgery can add up for these shelters, which can greatly rely on community outreach.
4. If your time is flexible and a position available, consider volunteering at your kennel.