Residents Face Federal Charges – Abandoned Pets During Hurricane Irma
Even if you’re not big animal lover, all those photos of the forgotten and stranded animals left behind during the terrible Hurricane Irma probably ripped your heart in two. The officers of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control actually rescued 49 dogs just before the storm hit. As the massive hurricane approached, owners left those dogs outside to fend for themselves. The owners of these pets and others abandoned during the hurricane, as it turns out, could face felony charges.
Pet Owners and Possible Prosecution During Hurricane Irma
“This is a prime example of animal cruelty,” said Dave Aronberg, the Palm Beach County state prosecutor. “We will definitely find you, and we will prosecute you.”
Authorities explained that many of those lovely animals who were rescued before Hurricane Irma were in fact left outside in cages or tied to poles. The state prosecutor, along with Dianne Suave, agency director has vowed to prosecute the animal owners.
Both intend to file felony prosecutions against anyone who abandoned their pets outside during the storm, as long as they can find enough evidence to do so. Animal Care and Control along with the rescued pets, also took in around 40 cats and dogs. The owners given up of these lovely animals as the storm approached. Suave and Aronberg are asking the public to help shelter the animals.
According to Suave, animal surrenders are common during storms, but due to Hurricane Irma, the numbers were particularly high. “It’s always disappointing. Our goal is to keep pets and people all together.”
Surrendering a pet to animal control or an animal shelter in Palm Beach County means that the individual cannot get the animal back when the storm ends. “I feel torn about that sometimes,” Suave said. “But we’re not a boarding facility.”
Tim Rickey, the ASPCA Vice President said, “It’s critical for pet owners to consider their animals when preparing for any disaster. If they have to evacuate their home, we strongly urge them to always bring their animals with them.”
The ASPCA worked through Hurricane Irma’s path in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. They rescued around 600 animals. Residents abandoned them during the storm. While they continue to move the animals to safety, the agency set up as well an emergency shelter in South Carolina.