Hurricane Irma is bringing out the worst in animal cruelty from pet owners in Florida. Animal control officials are describing one of the worst cases they’ve seen of abandoned dogs as “unconscionable.” As the most destructive hurricane to barrel towards Florida hits the state, dozens of dogs were left to face its wrath with a severe disadvantage.
Rescuers in Palm Beach County are shocked after finding over 50 animals either chained to a tree, locked in a crate, or tied to a pole after their owners evacuated. The helpless creatures aren’t just abandoned outside, but they’re also being constrained and unable to retreat as deadly Irma creeps inland.
ABC Action News in Tampa Bay reports that Palm Beach County Animal Control had rescued 49 dogs and two cats within 48 hours. Their owners abandoned the animals when they evacuated due to Irma, which is a serious crime.
Director of Animal Care Diane Suave tells the news source that the abandoned dogs were “left in a yard, in a pen they cannot escape from or tethered to trees or poles.” She explains that even the slightest bit of sand that gets in the animals’ eyes can hurt them when winds are traveling over 100 miles per hour. On top of that, there’s flooding, rain, and flying projectiles that can injure the animals.
Animals control officers were pulled from their rescues at 2:30 p.m. Saturday for safety reasons as the hurricane got closer. Once winds reach a steady 35 miles per hour, Suave says the officers aren’t permitted to rescue animals. Animal control is asking that the public shelter any animals they see left outside as Hurricane Irma tears through Florida.
Suave and State Attorney Dave Aronberg promise that they’ll prosecute those who abandoned their animals and left them outside to suffer through Hurricane Irma. Aronberg says it doesn’t get any worse than this when it comes to animal cruelty and that those responsible will be found and prosecuted. Suave says they’ll use any documentation at their disposal to trace animal cruelty offenders.
“It’s unconscionable,” Suave says. “We will not stand for it here in Palm Beach County.”
— NewsChannel 5 (@NC5) September 9, 2017
According to News Channel 5, neighbors placed calls to authorities after witnessing owners evacuate and abandon their dogs. Anyone found guilty of leaving their animals will be charged with felony animal cruelty. It’s illegal in Palm Beach County to leave a dog or any animal chained up or tethered without an owner present.
— PAWS Pet Foundation (@SupportPets) September 6, 2017
Animal Care and Control shelter already has over 100 abandoned animals they’ve rescued. Forty-two dogs were surrendered by owners evacuating because they were unable to take them along. The situation is so dire with Hurricane Irma that anyone in Palm Beach County can foster an animal right now without pre-approval and anyone can adopt. Adoptions fees are being waived at this time. Additionally, the shelter needs any rescue groups or private shelters in the area to assist them. They want to make space for animals that will be displaced after Irma.
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