Hurricane Irma: Helping Small Local Dog Rescue Groups

Highlands County, Florida Humane Society
By Karina Holosko, October 2017

Small rescue groups tend to be overlooked by larger rescue groups when it comes to disaster relief.  After the Florida Keys, Highlands County was hit the hardest by Hurricane Irma and declared a Disaster Zone. Our staff is exhausted, our dogs are traumatized, we just got water and air-conditioning but at least our little St. Francis statue is still standing!

We are working at full capacity (75 dogs and 50 cats) and cannot intake anymore animals. Our biggest wish is to get these dogs to forever homes.

When a dog enters the shelter, our challenge is to remind them that they are good dogs and did nothing wrong. The shock of Irma hurt, and without our regular volunteers it’s difficult to tend to their emotional needs. Our solution?  We have enlisted the puppies to work with the older dogs and they are doing an excellent job. Who can’t be cheered up by a wee one?

What we did not count on were the hoarders. Just last week we found a home with over a hundred cats. We did not expect the intakes from the flooded puppy mills hidden in the back roads. We are finding cages of dogs stuck in the mud. Some of these dogs had been purposely blinded so they could not run away.  We worked with the Sherriff’s Office to locate the people who runs these operations and can now shut them down.

We have also found dogs tied to fences and cars, their backs and legs broken from the storm.  Many people panicked could not take their animals with them and tied them up instead of letting them take their chances. 

We are performing emergency triage on many animals, working hard to rescue dogs in need and find forever homes for the pets in our shelter but we can’t do it alone.

How can you help?

1. We have created an Amazon Wishlist for Highlands Animal ControlThis will help all the shelters in the area. 

2. There is also a Go-Fund-Me that will be used to deliver food to local residents.