Animal Shelters prepare for influx of displaced pets in wake of hurricane

Sunday, September 1, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock

The Augusta Animal Services center held a pop-up event Sunday to try to clear some animals to make room for displaced pets from Hurricane Dorian. (Source: WRDW/WAGT)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Augusta Animal Services Center held a last-minute pop-up event Sunday to clear out cats and dogs in preparation for the possibility of evacuated Chatham County pets.

The shelter had 284 animals before the event today, and thanks to local rescue groups and adopters, 35 of them were taken to new homes.

"We're just trying to be proactive. We had time, so we're taking advantage of time and doing this pop-up event," said Deputy Director of Augusta Animal Services Crystal Eskola.

Unfortunately, with the storm's path still unknown, Eskola says the amount of animals they'll get is a mystery.

"We never know if there will be 10 or 100. We just prepare and we're ready for whatever comes," she said.

But being preparing for an unknown number of out-of-town pets means the shelter must limit the number of local animals it can take in. For the time being, they will no longer be accepting owner surrenders. They will still be accepting strays.

Animal Rescuers, like Alison Williams with Dog Networking Agents, lent a helping hand and made all the difference in clearing out animals.

"It's always important because there's always a need for space in the shelter regardless of a hurricane. So if you add that element of a storm into the mix, it's going to increase the need even more," said Williams.

Alison took five cats with her. They'll go to foster homes until they are permanently adopted. She hopes others will follow her lead.

"You're not only helping animals in our area, you're helping free up some space for people that need it," she said.

If things work out as the shelter hopes they will, they say we can expect to see more pop-up events like this in the future.

"If it's successful, we'll probably do it the next hurricane, too," said Eskola.

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