While floodwaters rage, they chill, just cats in a cage.
Eighteen cats are in cages in a well air-conditioned room at PAWS Humane, all refugees from Hurricane Florence in South Carolina, having been evacuated here with 12 dogs that went to foster care.
They came last week from Columbus County, South Carolina, to Columbus, Georgia, where perhaps they will find homes.
PAWS also is looking for a home – a temporary satellite location to house more animals seeking shelter from the storm.
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When a hurricane inundates whole cities, those animal shelters have to clear space to accommodate fresh rescues from the flood, and let those newcomers’ owners have time to come home and claim their pets.
If a shelter can’t evacuate the unclaimed animals in-house to a safe haven abroad, it may have to euthanize them to make room. And then what is lost can never be saved.
PAWS has taken in storm refugees before: Last year it hustled to house 82 animals fleeing Hurricane Irma in Florida. Some had to swim from their shelter runs to waiting vans. Most were adopted out here.
Those came from a shelter just outside Jacksonville, Fla. The refugees this year come from the area just inland from Wilmington and North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
PAWS was fortunate last year to have been offered some empty warehouse space off north Veterans Parkway, but that’s no longer available. So it’s looking for another site.
It needs a building with 2,500 to 5,000 square feet of open space, with water and electricity, and preferably drains in a concrete floor upon which PAWS can use portable fencing to set up dog pens.
PAWS also needs money, and recently appealed for $2,000 in donations to fund its storm rescue. It works with rescue networks such as Florida Urgent Rescue, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Best Friends Animal Society.
Because PAWS is the largest and most comprehensive animal adoption agency between Atlanta and Birmingham, it feels obligated to do what it can during these emergencies, said Bobbi Yeo, the chief executive officer.
Someday Columbus may be the one in need.
“We would certainly want others to do that for us,” she said.
Of the dozen dogs retrieved this year from South Carolina, three are puppies.
Kittens are among the felines caged at PAWS’ 5900 Milgen Road shelter, where most huddle together until someone offers to pet them. Three purring calico siblings climb over each other to be scratched on the cheeks and ears by fingers poked through the metal grate.
Anyone who’d like to donate to the relief effort may contribute online at www.pawshumane.org, where people also can see pets up for adoption.
The mailing address is 4900 Milgen Road, Columbus, Ga, 31907, and the phone number is 706-565-0035. The shelter is open for adoptions 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Local pet lovers also can help by being foster parents.
“Puppies and kittens need foster homes until they have received at least two rounds of vaccinations and weigh enough to be spayed or neutered,” PAWS says on its website. “Puppies are generally a two-week commitment and kittens are typically a four-week commitment.”
But PAWS doesn’t hand pets out to just anyone. First you fill out an application, and if that’s approved, you have an inspection.
“After your application is approved, you will be contacted by a member of our Foster Inspections Team to schedule your home inspection, mandated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture,” says PAWS.
You can learn more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A friend tried to get me to foster a dog over the summer, but I declined. I don’t think I would make a responsible single parent.
“But it’s a dog,” my friend said.