By Connor Beach
When Hurricane Florence made landfall at approximately 7:15 a.m., Sept. 14 near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, the Category 1 storm had sustained winds of around 90 mph. Perhaps the most devastating consequence of the slow moving storm was the incredible amount of rain that lashed down across coastal and inland parts of the Carolinas.
Swansboro, North Carolina, around 70 miles north of Wilmington, was flooded with over 30 inches of rain as Florence moved inland.
As the level of destruction and devastation caused by Hurricane Florence became apparent, the staff of Little Shelter in Huntington sprang into action. Aware that humans weren’t the only victims of the storm, Little Shelter launched a relief transport to the Carolinas to rescue dogs and cats that needed a safe haven.
“I feel strongly that if Little Shelter has the ability to help, then we certainly have a responsibility to help,” David Ceely, Executive Director of Little Shelter, said.
Ceely said Little Shelter reached out by email, phone and social media to shelters in the areas affected by the hurricane and related flooding. The organization was able to build contacts with other animal shelters when they responded to help house animals displaced during hurricanes Harvey and Maria in 2017.
“It was set up through our regular rescue network, and it was actually a contact of ours that we were helping with the hurricane problems last year,” Ceely said.
Little Shelter sent its rescue van down to the Carolinas, and, in multiple rescue transports, brought both dogs and cats back to Huntington.
“So far in total we have about 35 total cats and dogs,” Ceely said. “About 12 cats and the rest are dogs.”
Included in Little Shelter’s rescue transports were multiple dogs that were going to the Town of Huntington Animal Shelter in order to maximize the number of animals that could be saved. Ceely said this was the second time that the town and Little Shelter have teamed up to help animals displaced by hurricanes.
The animals that Little Shelter brought back from the Carolinas were already living in animal shelters when Hurricane Florence hit. The transports to Huntington opened up much needed space for southern shelters that were becoming overwhelmed by the influx of displaced animals.
Ceely said several of the dogs and cats were rescued from a municipal shelter that was damaged by flooding.
Once the animals are thoroughly evaluated, they will be available for adoption at both Little Shelter and the Town of Huntington Animal Shelter.
“They go through a two week quarantine period with us,” Ceely said. “After that they will be fully vetted and evaluated medically and emotionally, and then they’ll go up for adoption.”
Ceely anticipated that the animal rescue transports from the Carolinas would continue for “a couple of months.”
Little Shelter is currently collecting donations to help cover the continued care of the rescued animals.