Social media has been abuzz this week, after the U.S. Coast Guard rescued 10 caged beagles in North Carolina that were trapped by the rising waters of Hurricane Florence. The Erie County SPCA says more than a dozen dogs from hurricane-ravaged areas have transferred in and are available for adoption.
The North Carolina pet owners were elderly and stranded in a mobile home with flood waters as high as the home's windows. The couple was rescued first, leaving their 10 beagles locked in a cage outside the home, when another Coast Guard boat came by and saved the furry friends.
SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Browning says there "is no reason" a family has to abandon pets during hurricanes because whenever a disaster nears, animal shelters "kick into high gear."
"As soon as this storm was predicted, we were receiving phone calls and we went to work with transport partners," Browning said. "In the past, when Katrina and some of the other storms of this nature, we've also been able to send staff when the need was overwhelming and there where would convention centers filled with thousands of animals, much more than one agency could care for."
SPCA volunteers on Tuesday had heard of the beagle rescue and were joking that the new arrivals bark with "a Southern twang."
Browning says the SPCA takes on as many animals as they have room for during disasters. It was expecting more Florence transfers, but early warnings of the hurricane helped owners better prepare for relocation with their pets.
"If they are in an area that the storm is anticipated to hit, they want to make sure that the animals are out of the shelters so no animals are perishing in the storm," Browning said. "If they're not where the storm is exactly hitting, they still want to clear the shelters because there ultimately will be animals who are displaced because of the storm and they want to have room for those animals."
The dogs that transferred in to Erie County were already surrendered by families, not pets that eventually would be reunited with their owners. Browning says more animals may still transfer in, depending on the situation down South.
The transfers arrive as the SPCA celebrates the 25th anniversary of its signature "Paws in the Park" event Saturday at Beaver Island State Park.