For the thousands of families without power, running water or even homes a week and a half after Superstorm Sandy, the ASPCA can’t unload our pet supply trucks fast enough. Everywhere our trucks stop, we are met by a crowd of needy pet parents who eagerly snap up the supplies before we can pull away to the next distribution point.
Pets are all many families have left, and they are eager to take good care of them in spite of all they’ve lost. To date, we have distributed thousands of pounds of pet food and cat litter to areas of extreme need, and we are ramping up this effort and fielding more requests every day.
If you live far from the affected area, please don’t look away from this catastrophe now. Animals and their pet parents need our help desperately, and we’re working around the clock to meet their needs. To date, we have helped nearly 6,000 animals, and we don’t expect this operation to wind down any time soon.
If you would like to contribute to our disaster relief fund, you can make a gift here. Every cent will go to ASPCA disaster relief efforts.
The Cruelty Intervention Advocacy (CIA) program works in conjunction with Humane Law Enforcement to intervene in cases involving animals that are not victims of cruelty but may be at risk of becoming victims without intervention. To date, CIA has intervened in over 80 animal hoarding cases in New York City’s five boroughs. CIA’s Colleen Doherty told us about her work during Sandy.
When Hurricane Sandy hit NYC, I knew I had to get out to cases in impacted areas as quickly as possible to check on the condition of the animals. I responded to 11 cases in two days with a Humane Law Enforcement Agent and veterinarian, providing wellness checks to animals and critical supplies such as pet food and litter.
One case in particular in Coney Island, an area heavily impacted by Sandy, involves a family with 50 cats. Just before Sandy hit, the CIA team was coordinating a rescue operation to remove these cats and place them for adoption as soon as they were rehabilitated. Sandy interrupted this effort, and after the storm, I was not able to get in touch with the family because the cell service and power was out. I headed there right away to check on them.
Luckily they didn’t sustain major flooding. They were in need of some supplies as lots of local stores were closed or flooded, so we provided them with all the essentials.
It is an unbelievable feeling to be a lifeline to so many animals in my community. Being able to have a hands-on approach, seeing the condition of animals, pet parents and homes, and to see a case to completion, is an amazing privilege that I feel very lucky to have.
Yesterday we told you about our field team’s work to reunite families with their pets in the Rockaways, one of many areas that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Check out this touching video of Leanne Rivera’s reunion with her beloved pup Precious.
Sandy hit the Rockaways hard, and the ASPCA is responding in that area in three ways: We’re distributing pet supplies at several key points, providing veterinary care to residents, and rescuing animals who were left behind as the storm bore down on this seaside community.
One call our rescue team received informed us that the Rivera family in the Rockaways had been forced to leave their dog and three cats behind when they evacuated to a shelter on Tuesday.
Leann and Manny Rivera had been at home with their seven children when Sandy hit, and it was only a matter of minutes before their home was flooded with 15 or 16 feet of water.
Their landlord told them to break down the door on the empty third-floor apartment in their two-family house, so all nine people and four pets huddled in one room there until the water was low enough that they could swim out.
The Riveras didn’t know they could bring pets to the shelter, and they also had no way to get them through the water. They left their pets in the house with four days’ worth of food and water and trudged through their flooded street to a police station, where they were sent to a shelter. Staff there told them the ASPCA could help them get their animals back, and we did.
We found the cats hiding in various places around the house and the little dog, terrified, barking on the couch. We placed the cats in carriers and wrapped the dog in a blanket and took them to safety.
When we pulled in to the evacuation center where the Riveras were staying, Leann ran next to our truck as it pulled in. She couldn’t wait to see her “other children.” As we opened the van door, Leann’s little dog nearly exploded with glee to see his mom again, and Leann returned the enthusiasm. The animals are now with the Riveras at the shelter, where Leann reports her children are overjoyed to see their pets again.
Field rescues of animals trapped in homes continues today in the Rockaways and elsewhere.
The ASPCA is marking day two of water and land rescues in Ocean County, New Jersey, in one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. This afternoon, the ASPCA’s Dr. Dick Green and Bruce Earnest rescued four cats and their pet parent, a woman in her seventies, who lived in an evacuation zone.
The woman decided to stay in her home, rather than evacuate, because she didn’t want to leave her cats behind. Luckily, ASPCA responders were able to reach her, rescue the cats, and drive the woman to a friend’s house on higher ground.
The ASPCA is continuing to work closely with local officials and our partners in New Jersey and New York to respond to animal rescue requests. Our priority is to help reunite as many pet parents as possible with their animals.