Once the Nashville-based non-profit, which has a history of helping animals displaced by natural disasters, heard about the oncoming storm, seemingly growing in ferocity each day, staff went into action.
Employees from Big Fluffy Dog Rescue drove to Pawleys Island, South Carolina, one of numerous location across coastal Carolina threatened by the storm surges expected from Hurricane Florence. Once they arrived, the rescuers worked to pack as many dogs and cats as they could from a local shelter into their vehicles.
“So we are loaded up (and I do mean loaded up) and we are on our way back from Pawleys Island in South Carolina this morning with 21 dogs and 15 cats. Don’t judge. The cats are just fluffy dog wannabes and they don’t enjoy storm surge either. The shelter is totally empty,” the rescue posted on Facebook about the furry mission.
Big Fluffy Dog Rescue’s Jean Harrison told PEOPLE that all of the pets made it safely back to Tennessee, where the cats were later relocated to local rescues that handle feline care and adoptions.
The rescue is now looking for volunteers to help foster the extra dogs pulled from Florence’s path. For those unable to foster at this time, Big Fluffy Dog Rescue is also in need of supplies, wire cages especially, and monetary donations to cover the costs of caring for these animals.
According to Harrison, the rescue is now preparing to help animals displaced by Hurricane Florence after it passes through, especially pets affected by flooding.
Big Fluffy Dog Rescue is far from the only animal group helping the pets caught in the storm. The American Humane Rescue Team recently relocated 76 cats and kittens from South Carolina shelters and moved them to safe, dry, temporary homes in Connecticut and New York.
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Saving Grace, a non-profit animal organization based in Wake Forest, North Carolina, saw the devotion of animal lovers firsthand when staff hosted a hurricane handout foster event. The quickly organized event was put together to find foster homes for the numerous dogs Saving Grace had pulled from shelters likely to be affected by Hurricane Florence. On Sept. 12, dozens of residents showed up and waited in long lines to get the chance to foster one of these displaced canines.
The importance of these efforts are three-fold: they save adoptable pets in danger of being harmed by a natural disaster, they give employees working at these coastal shelters time to evacuate after the pets are cleared out, and, after the storm, coastal shelters have room to take in and care for the animals that are found lost or injured.
Big Fluffy Dogs Rescue hopes that by seeing its effort, those in the storm’s path will be motivated to take Hurricane Florence and its potential effects on animals seriously.
“Here’s the deal: if you live in an area that is predicted to be hit with storm surge, if you and your pets don’t leave, the odds are your pets will die. Maybe you as well. You and they can survive wind. The odds of surviving a storm surge event are close to zero,” the rescue wrote on Facebook on Thursday, the day Hurricane Florence was scheduled to reach the Carolinas. “It’s not just rising water and unless you’ve seen it, you have no idea what you are in for. Your pets depend on you to make safe choices for them, so if you are in an area that is predicted to be inundated, then you need to get out with your pets.”