Hurricane Sandy claimed the lives of more than 100 people. But the deadly Frankenstorm didn't stop there; she also claimed the lives of countless animals. It is unknown just how many drowned.
Dogs and cats could be seen on rooftops and balancing on debris, struggling to survive a storm they didn't understand. Separated from their families during evacuations, some pets were eventually reunited. But not all stories have happy endings. Living in apartments until their homes can be rebuilt, some families have been forced to surrender their beloved pets.
In the days following the Super Storm, temporary shelters popped up to help the displaced pets. But three months later, the orphaned animals are still waiting and some of the shelters are out of resources and must close their doors.
The Emergency Pet Center in Mitchell Field, Uniondale, New York, will close this Sunday, February 17th. Currently, they have 30 dogs and 42 cats in need of adoption.
"There is NO ADOPTION FEE," says Susan Fox of Hicksville, NY. "We desperately need to find homes for these animals. The shelter is scheduled to close this coming Sunday."
Run by the Pet Safe Coalition, Susan says the Emergency Pet Center volunteers are "unsung heroes," people who have selflessly reached out to orphaned animals. She's seen firsthand how much they care. It's there in the smiling eyes of Maxy, a tender-hearted pitbull not more than two or three years old. Maxy is special. She's seen her fair share of shelters.
Susan says she first met the friendly pup at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter where she'd eventually volunteer. As she did from time to time, Susan had stopped by for a friendly visit. That's when she met the gentle Maxy, and the two made a connection, so much so that Maxy whined when it came time for Susan to leave. "She cried for me, and I made her a promise that I'd see her every week," Susan remembers.
Since she already had a dog, she was unable to adopt Maxy, but that didn't stop them from becoming fast friends.
Only one day, when Susan stopped in, Maxy was gone. "A rescue group came and took a group of dogs, and she was among them. I would ask periodically, but nobody knew what happend to her," Susan says.
With a full heart, Susan wished Maxy well and continued to help those that she could.
Until that fateful day when someone said they'd spotted Maxy among the shelter pets taken in following the hurricane. "I don't know how she got there, but she is there," Susan says. " I have been going every weekend, two hours Saturday and Sunday. They have a play area."
Maxy is a changed dog. "If a dog could smile, she is. She's truly happy," Susan says.
She can't say enough about the goodness of the Emergency Pet Center and how much they care. She's touched by the way they responded to one family's crisis. The son had suffered brain damage after being struck by a car last August. "During the hurricane, 7 feet of water came into the home, working its way up to the second floor staircase. They couldn't get out the window with him because he's disabled. The rest of them they could have fled, but they wouldn't leave without the child. They were terrified that they were going to drown.
"They did get out and were rescued. And the family's cats were taken to emergency shelter, and they're being fostered - all four cats - until they can get their lives together," Susan says.
The Emergency Pet Center is in desperate need of foster families and preferably "furever homes."
"They're trying to find foster families and if they don't, they'll wind up back in shelters," Susan says.
The Emergency Pet Center is located at Mitchell Field, Uniondale, NY, just behind the Children's Museum off of Hempstead Turnpike; they may be reached at 516-272-0017.
Additionally, for more information on pets affected by Hurricane Sandy, please visit the Facebook Page, Hurricane Sandy Lost and Found Pets.
Susan is a longtime guest of Woodloch Pines Resort and has been coming with her family for close to two decades. She thanked Woodloch for putting this blog on our website. "I cannot thank you enough for doing this for me and for the staff and animals at the Emergency Pet Shelter! I am deeply appreciative! Woodloch employees always take that one or actually many steps extra for everything!!"