HSUS mobilizes to rescue pets stranded by the storm

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, joined rescuers in Monmouth County, NJ which is dealing with a rash of abandoned pets left behind when owners fled, including an iguana.

Sadly, several pets Pacelle came upon were suffering from problems that predated Sandy: the most heartbreaking, a dog found tied to a broken fence suffering from scabies and feral cats in a feces-and-urine filled home. In his blog, Pacelle writes:

Barely standing and visibly shaking before me was an older, emaciated dog covered in bald patches, likely the result of a terrible case of scabies. His elderly owners had been taken to a hospital and had left their animals behind. This one dog, who neighbors told me was named Stormy, was tethered to a leash wound around what was left of the front gate. He could barely move and was standing in feces and urine. I unhitched the leash and asked my teammates to get some fresh water. I put the bowl in front of him. He couldn’t lap up the water fast enough. He did the same with a bowl of food, which we placed in a crate, to lure him in. He’d need veterinary attention very soon, but first we had to see who else was inside.

As I walked in, it was obvious there were big problems here before Sandy ever hit. The home was uninhabitable, with feces all over the soaked carpets and bare floors. We moved toward the back of the small, single-level home and put on our face masks because the stench was almost unbearable — making us look even more alien to the smallish feral cats staring back at us from what they thought were safe perches. The cats put on a display of acrobatics to avoid capture, but Jennifer and my fiancée and I scooped all of them up, and loaded them on a truck to deliver them to one veterinary clinic and Stormy to a separate one, as other members of our team readied to open an HSUS emergency shelter in Belmar.

A colleague e-mailed me later in the day, and said that the house had been condemned, and was going to be bulldozed. We had gotten the five animals out just in time.

Pacelle's experience reminded me of covering the pet triage center in Gulfport, MS after Katrina. As residents lined up to turn over animals they could no longer care for, it was evident watching veterinarians treating several of the surrendered pets that their afflictions were not storm related, but stemmed from lack of proper vet care before the storm.

Pacelle and his team helped give one family something to celebrate: his team reunited a lost Siamese cat with her grateful family.

There were more rescue calls, delivery of food for strays, and talked to residents and inspection of the emergency shelter The HSUS set up for animals in need in Monmouth County. A shelter in Ocean County should be operational soon. HSUS also is running a shelter in Nassau County, on Long Island.

Anyone interested in following the latest news about the Hurricane Sandy deployment can follow HSUS on its Twitter feed. It also is accepting donations via the Disaster Relief Fund by texting ANIMALS to 20222.