Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest recorded storms to ever hit the Atlantic — and as we saw with Hurricane Harvey, storms like these can be just as devastating for the animals in their wake as they are for us humans. This is even more true for those animals who were either left behind by their families, or simply became separated from them during evacuation. So if you’re worried about stray animals in Florida, and you’re wondering how you might be able to help, rest assured that there are plenty of ways you can help animals who are escaping Hurricane Irma.
If you’re living in or near Florida and are not evacuating, you might consider opening up your home. Foster parents are desperately needed for new strays. Plus, many shelters in Florida are looking for foster homes to take in their long-term residents in order to make room for recently displaced pets whose families might be searching for them after the storm. But even if you don’t live in or near Florida, fostering might still be an option. Southwest Airlines flew an entire plane of displaced pets from Hurricane Harvey to San Diego last week, and the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago is planning to take in displaced pets from Florida — so if you want to help out by fostering, you don’t actually have to live in Florida for that to be an option.
Of course, you can also help out simply by donating to animal rescue organizations or animals shelters in Hurricane Irma’s wake. The method is really up to you, but there really are plenty of ways you can help animals escaping Hurricane Irma.
Open Your Home
One super easy way to help animals escape Irma is by providing them with sanctuary, so if you're willing and able, there's a couple of different ways to open your home to Florida's strays. You can volunteer to foster shelter animals in Irma's path so that displaced pets can stay close to home, hopefully making it easier for their humans to reunite with them. Or you can apply to foster new strays who were abandoned by their humans before hurricane Irma hit. If you live near Chicago or the Bay Area, you can also look into adopting animals who were sent there in preparation for Irma. Whatever you decide, you'll be literally saving the day for these sweeties.
Donate To Animal Shelters
If you're unable to open your home to animals who have been displaced by Irma, and you aren't able to volunteer with rescue organizations, then consider donating instead. You can make a monetary donation to animal shelters in Irma's wake, or you can help fund the ASPCA's field investigation and response fund so they can keep saving Florida's strays. You can also donate to the Humane Society's disaster relief fund. If those options don't sound doable to you, know that you can also help out by shopping with Amazon Smile. For every eligible order you place through Amazon Smile, the site will donate .5 percent of the cost of eligible purchases to the charity of your choice. So basically, you could help pets escaping Irma by spending money you would already be shelling out for daily necessities.
Don't Assume Someone Else Will "Take Care Of It"
While you definitely shouldn't feel obligated to approach stray animals that might leave you feeling threatened, this doesn't mean you should assume someone more qualified is going to to come along and rescue them. The fact is, not everyone values the lives of animals, and this is perhaps especially true in natural disasters. So if you're in Florida during Irma, and you come across a stray who you are not comfortable getting close to, don't think you have to choose between risking your safety or abandoning the animal. Instead, call your local animal control or an animal rescue team. And if you can, hang out (at a safe distance) until they arrive so you can ensure the stray finds safety.