American Humane has moved its animal rescue team and two 50-foot emergency rescue vehicles into one of the hardest-hit areas to set up a major ongoing emergency aid and reunification center for pets caught in the catastrophe.
American Humane's animal rescue program is working with the local Palmetto Animal League to help displaced pets at its non-profit shelter in Okatie, South Carolina, and create a Pet Disaster Recovery Center for the region as part of an unprecedented and comprehensive response to rescue and recovery efforts for pets, including distribution of food and pet supplies, veterinary clinics for injured and ill animals, reunification of pets with their families, and other critical services as needed by the disaster victims.
Palmetto Animal League (PAL) is a private, non-profit animal shelter in Okatie that rescues cats and dogs and provides them with a home-like environment until a forever family can be found. PAL currently has 155 cats and 25 dogs in their Adoption Center and even more in foster care, many with significant health and medical needs. Okatie is one of the hardest hit areas of South Carolina, near Hilton Head Island, which suffered from what the governor called "unprecedented damage."
"The local PAL shelter reached out to us to help them and their community recover from the disaster, and we will do everything in our power to make a difference for the animal victims and their families," said Randy Collins, national director of animal rescue for American Humane. "But we also want to make sure the larger region has animal disaster relief services now that the storm is over and the cameras are leaving. The hurricane is gone, but the need is not."
"Palmetto Animal League is thankful to be teaming up with the American Humane to help provide much-needed services for Lowcountry pet owners affected by the storm," said Fred Liebert, PAL chairman of the board. "With PAL resources stretched to the limit, American Humane didn't waste any time setting up their mobile disaster pet recovery center to offer lifesaving emergency supplies and support to the public."
As Hurricane Matthew neared U.S. shores, American Humane rushed its rescue team into action. They strategically moved vital equipment into the areas expected to be hardest hit in Florida and South Carolina, including two of its 50-foot emergency rescue vehicles made possible by the support of philanthropist Lois Pope, the Kirkpatrick Foundation, the Donner Foundation, and Banfield Pet Foundation.
One of the emergency vehicles was driven nine hours by senior team member Jeff Eyre and his three-legged German Shepherd Dually to help prepare a shelter for 117 cats and 49 dogs in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He, shelter employees and volunteers worked tirelessly over the next 36 hours to prepare for the storm, whose winds were so fierce they actually moved American Humane's giant F-350 truck.
As shelter workers remained sheltered in place in their homes and with their families, Jeff and Dually rode out the storm as the only guardians of the 166 animals in the shelter. When the shelter lost electricity, they used their emergency rescue vehicle to power the entire facility, running fans and preventing the animals from overheating.
Photo credit: PRNewsFoto/American Humane