Surviving Hurricane Sandy

Reflections on the storm and where to donate to help affected pets
By JoAnna Lou, November 2012

In the 30 years I've lived in New York, I've never seen anything like the widespread destruction that Hurricane Sandy left behind. I was very fortunate that my family made it safely out of the storm. During the the hurricane I realized that us dog people are in a unique situation. While many of my friends stayed holed up in their homes, I had to venture outside, no matter what the weather, to walk the dogs--especially my puppy who has to go out several times a day.

During the peak of the storm, I was terrified that a tree would fall on us. Fortunately my puppy goes almost immediately, but there were several times where the wind was so noisy, I ran straight back inside before she even had a chance to potty. Trees claimed many lives in my area, including two people walking their dog.  My pups and I were so, so lucky. I think next storm I might build an indoor potty area in my garage as an extra precaution.  

Times have certainly changed from Hurricane Katrina. I was impressed that New York City made all evacuation shelters pet friendly and lifted animal restrictions on subways, taxis, and trains. However, not all made it through the storm unscathed.  Local animal shelters were damaged and some still don't have electricity. Despite the pet friendly evacuation shelters, many animals were left behind, scared dogs ran away and are now missing, and still others are safe, but have no home to go back to.  

No matter where you live, there are ways to help out. The ASPCA is rescuing pets, providing veterinary care, and bringing supplies to animal shelters and families in the hardest hit areas. Visit their web site to donate money to the rescue efforts.

Best Friends Animal Society is coordinating and delivering donations, transporting animals to non-affected areas, and manning the pet portion of the Sussex County, N.J. evacuation shelter. If you're local, contact the NYC Volunteer Coordinator at to contribute supplies (everything from pet supplies to gas gift cards) or to help out. Shelters impacted by the storm can apply for a micro-grant through the Best Friends web site.

Also, a Facebook group was created to reunite lost pets with their families. Even if you're not in the North East, you can share alerts on your Facebook news feed to reach friends who may be in the area.

Pet lovers are a tight community and I've already seen people banding together to donate supplies, lend generators, and organize fundraisers. I know we will help each other through this difficult time.


JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.