Pets are at the forefront of victims during natural disasters when humans are overwhelmed. Rescue groups are forced to prioritize people over animals when emergency needs are a struggle to meet in time to save as many lives as possible. This leads to the unfortunate outcome of families fleeing while leaving their pets behind to fend for themselves because circumstances were so dire that they had only minutes to escape for their own safety and could not get to their pets in time.
Such was the case for many furry four-legged companions during Hurricane Dorian this August. Thousands of homes were overwhelmed with 20-foot sea surges in a matter of hours which resulted in human life and, unsurprisingly, pet casualties were among them.
In the aftermath, many families can no longer keep their surviving pets because they are now homeless. Animal shelters that were damaged by Hurricane Dorian are now overwhelmed and need to ship the animals off of the islands. Florida has become the initial receiving area in the United States to assist the Bahamas because of its close proximity, but due to the large numbers that are being received, they need to be distributed to other animal rescue centers throughout the country soon after their arrival.
One of these shelters, Buffalo C.A.R.E.S., is located over 1200 miles away in Buffalo City, New York. C.A.R.E.S. is an acronym short for Companion Animal Rescue for Evan and Snoopy. The shelter has stepped in to take on some of the less desirable rescued dogs, which is their specialty. They focus on helping the undesirables that are shy or distrusting of humans because they may have been neglected, abused or treated more like outdoor livestock rather than part of the family.
However, this behavior can be easily changed because many of them simply never experienced what it’s like to be loved or part of a human family. In the poorer areas of the Bahamas, homeless dogs roamed the streets and were looked over by the locals who fed them the burned leftovers of peas and rice that stuck to the bottom of cooking pots, which earned the dogs the nickname “pawtcake dogs”. They understood that humans cared enough to give them food, but many of them did not have direct bonds with humans that were attached enough to claim ownership over their care.
But it has not been easy. Shortly after relief effort began, the United States east coast was threatened by weather which made the transportation of the dogs challenging. In addition, the animals need to be quarantined for 90 days after arriving before they can be available for adoption.