Staff members and volunteers from animal shelters across the country are mobilizing to help rescue dogs and cats impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Ian.
Many of the animals are now waiting to be transported to other shelters, including here in Chicago.
“We’re gonna start tonight and tomorrow by driving down vans full of supplies so things like bottled water, and cat and dog food,” said PAWS CEO Susanna Wickham.
PAWS Chicago is sending a group of volunteers to bring back 42 dogs and cats from shelters in Florida. Wickham told NBC 5 she is making such a trip with the shelter for the first time.
“I’ve been here and seen when we open the van doors, you see animals that have just arrived from something terrible, and its hard to see, but its incredibly heartwarming every time and to go there and actually be rescuing them is just an honor,” she said.
Volunteers will make the 21-hour trip to pick up animals from shelters in Naples and Fort Myers.
“We have people coming in today either needed to surrender or who found stray animals that were displaced by the hurricane and the more we can move out now the more we can help all those people,” said Humane Society Naples CEO Sarah Baeckler.
Baeckler described the past 48 hours as intense and surreal. Video shared with NBC 5 shows extreme flooding on the shelter’s property.
“Thankfully in our buildings we had no damage, we had no flooding coming into our buildings,” she said. “We had some on the property. We came through okay. We never lost power here at our main shelter which was pretty incredible.”
Local shelters are calling on people to foster and adopt if possible, to clear the shelter to make room for evacuated animals. More than 30 will arrive at Chicago’s Anti-Cruelty Society Saturday.
“The nation is mobilizing now,” said Anti-Cruelty Society Chief Operations Officer Darlene Duggan. “The storm has kind of come through Florida, done its damage and now everybody is talking about how much room there is in shelters not affected by the hurricane and how many animals can move. It’s a nationwide effort at this point.”
While it’s unknown what some of the animals had to endure prior to Hurricane Ian, animal advocates say the goal now is to find them safe and permeant homes.
“It’s a lot of good animals coming your way, and they’ve all been very well-loved. Please take care of them, and give them good homes in Chicago,” said Baeckler.
Many of the animals arriving in Chicago will be available for adoption once cleared by the shelters. For more information on how you can foster, adopt, or donate money for their care click here for PAWS Chicago or find the Anti-Cruelty Society’s website here.