Florida Residents Who Abandoned Their Pets During Hurricane Irma Will Face Criminal Charges

Pet owner or not, I will say this now: People who leave their pets behind during a natural disaster should not be pet-owners in the first place. People who tie them up or leave them trapped during said natural disaster are worse than trash.

Before Hurricane Irma made landfall, meteorologists gave ample warning of the vicious storm and its inevitable trail of destruction. Naturally, people prepared emergency kits, boarded up their homes and made plans to evacuate before the hurricane hit. It seems that for some homeowners, their pets did not fit into those plans. According to officials, hundreds of animals were left tied up in homes, cars and even outside in the elements with no way to escape or take shelter.

Diane Sauve, the head of the Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, spoke with WPTV about these acts of animal cruelty.¬†“They were left in a yard, in a pen they cannot escape from or tethered to trees or poles,” She explained.

Currently, Palm Beach County Animal Care and the State Attorney’s Office are tracking down individuals guilty of abandoning these animals and essentially leaving them for dead. In Palm Beach County, it is illegal to leave a dog chained up if the owner is not present.¬†According to officials, leaving a tethered animal alone during a disaster is considered a felony and owners will be prosecuted accordingly.

“This is a prime example of animal cruelty,” said Dave Aronberg, the state prosecutor for Palm Beach County. “We will find you, and we will prosecute you.”

If you thought shelters were full on a normal day, imagine the struggle during the aftermath of a storm. According to ABC Action News, animal control rushed to rescue abandoned animals before Irma made landfall. They found at least 49 dogs and two cats, but rescuers believe that there were more out there that they couldn’t reach before the storm hit.

The Palm Beach County Animal shelters house over 100 animals and are currently waiving adoptions fees and offering assistance to anyone that’s willing to foster pets temporarily. PBC is also trying to send pets to other shelters up north to avoid overcrowding.

Just thinking about this makes me want to hug my dog really tight. If you’re interested in helping out, the PBC shelter is currently accepting donations. If you have spare crates, carriers, or other pet essentials that you’re willing to donate, do it! If you don’t have any lying around, you can also send them through Amazon.

Even better, if you’re interested in adopting or fostering a pet, let them know! One extra space in the shelter can mean the difference between an animal on the streets and one in a warm bed.

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