Owners who abandoned pets during Hurricane Irma will face prosecution

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In the days and hours leading up to Hurricane Irma‘s landfall in Florida, thousands of residents moved quickly to evacuate. Unfortunately, during the evacuation, people had to figure out what to do with their pets.

For some residents, their pets simply couldn’t come to the storm shelters. So, owners surrendered their beloved pets to local animal shelters. Sadly, though, other owners didn’t show as much care or compassion. Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control received dozens of calls about pets abandoned outside of people’s homes.

According to WPTV, in Palm Beach Country, residents surrendered 50 dogs and 15 cats to the local animal shelter. Meanwhile, nearly 40 dogs had to ride out the storm alone.

“Many of them were loose inside fenced yards, some were loose in the community where they just got turned loose or some were tied and left in small cages,” said Animal Care and Control Captain Dave Walesky. “One of the dogs was left tied to a structure with a bowl of water and a bunch of bananas.”

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How unbelievably sad!

But county and state officials refuse to let the owners who simply abandoned their animals off the hook.

“Absolutely unacceptable. People need to be responsible pet owners in this community,” said State Attorney Dave Aronberg. “And there is no excuse for leaving your pet behind to die. We are going to hold accountable those who we can prove left their dogs behind in the storm.

And Aronberg, who called the owners actions a “prime example of cruelty,” promised the offenders, “We will find you and will prosecute you.”

As the Palm Beach Animal Care and Control shelter filled to capacity, other agencies stepped up to help out. This is where the story takes a touching turn.

Finding new homes for the abandoned animals

Shelters from all over the country opened their doors and resources to help the abandoned and surrendered pets from Hurricane Irma.

The Charleston Animal Society in South Carolina sent a truck to Gainesville, Florida, to pick up 126 animals left in Irma’s wake.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, the SPCA held a special adoption event for 28 dogs and cats rescued from Hurricane Irma’s aftermath. The agency had to hold a special lottery because hundreds of people showed up looking to adopt!

One Florida couple took pet sitting to a whole new level! Ron and Gretchen Levine took in 46 animals for people who couldn’t shelter their pets. Ron said the animals got along great.

And finally, the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Orlando took in a record 900 dogs after Irma.

Way to go to all the people working to protect our animals in rain or shine!

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About the Author
Marie Rossiter
Marie is a freelance writer and content creator with more than 20 years of experience in journalism. She lives in southwest Ohio with her husband and is almost a full-fledged empty nest mom of two daughters. She loves music, reading, word games, and Walt Disney World. Visit Scripps News to see more of Marie's work.

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