Critters in the storm: PETA asks govs to order chain ban, zoo animals safe

The animal rights group PETA has asked Gov. Corbett and the leaders of seven other hurricane-battered states, including New Jersey, to issue emergency orders to ban dog chaining for the duration of the storm.

In its letter to the governors PETA vice president for cruelty investigations Daphna Nachminovitch said:

National Weather Service warns that several counties in Pennsylvania could experience flooding, "damaging wind gusts," and even heavy snow for a few regions. Animals kept chained outdoors during this storm will have no means of seeking protection from the strong winds and widespread flooding predicted. Chained dogs will surely drown, unable to escape rising floodwaters and violent wind gusts.

No one can forget the haunting images of the dogs who were stranded, abandoned, and left to die on chains during Hurricane Katrina. If you'd like, we could provide you with stories and photos of chained dogs who have suffered during inclement weather, including Smokey, whom I went to visit one day only to learn that he had died alone outside during Hurricane Irene on the chain that he had been attached to since puppyhood. Such an order from your office could mean the difference between life and death for dogs doomed to this hopeless fate.

The order would require that all dogs be allowed indoors and not left chained outside, where they may drown, freeze, be strangled, or be hit by flying debris in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, PETA said.

Among the states approached, which also included New York, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont - only Connecticut has a law that bans 24/7 dog chaining.

Meanwhile, the Humane Society of the United States reports that in New Jersey its state director helped coordinate the rescue of a deer in danger of drowning in the ocean. A good Samaritan pulled the exhausted buck from the surf while the Associated Humane Societies and Monmouth Beach police officers worked together to tranquilize the animal and carry him to safety.

In Maryland, the HSUS animal sheltering trailer and rescue equipment are on standby at HSUS headquarters, and our Animal Rescue Team is on alert to respond to requests for help as this huge storm continues to churn and move up the coast and then inland.

Back in Pennsylvania, we just learned animals at Hershey's Zoo America have been moved to safety ahead of this storm crisis. Readers of this blog may recall the tragedy last year when two bison were shot by zoo staff during Hurricane Lee because they became trapped in their pen and could not be moved.

Officials at the zoo east of Harrisburg say they have taken steps to ensure the safety of approximately 200 animals, the Patriot-News reports.

Rachel Dinbokowitz, a spokeswoman for ZooAmerica at HersheyPark, said workers began relocating some of the animals to other pens and some were taken indoors.

The public was outraged over the tragic bison deaths. An investigation by the organization that certifies zoos found no wrongdoing by the zoo. Since then. Dinbokowicz told the paper, the zoo has made changes to areas that flooded last year, including the prairie dog exhibit area, which now features a large mound that allows the animals to climb to higher ground.

Other exhibits now have 6-foot platforms, she said.

ZooAmerica did not acquire new bisons, but installed a sandhill crane exhibit in the area where they had been housed.