MetroFocus Solutions Story: ASPCA Emergency Shelter for Displaced Pets

Encore: December 20, 2012

A MetroFocus Solutions story. The ASPCA’s temporary animal shelter may convince residents with pets to evacuate during emergencies. MetroFocus airs December 19 at 7 p.m. on WLIW21, and on December 20 at 8 p.m. on NJTV and 8:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

During the Hurricane Sandy, the ASPCA assisted almost 16,000 pets through mobile clinics and pet supply distribution. They also rescued more than 300 animals from damaged homes to reunite them with owners. Pets were allowed in emergency shelters during Hurricane Sandy but as the shelters started to close, the ASPCA came up with an innovative idea to keep the animals safe, warmed and cared for–a temporary boarding facility.

Photo courtesy of the ASPCA.

The ASPCA took animal in at locations in Far Rockaway, Coney Island and Staten Island and brought them to a shelter at 1508 Herkimer Street in East New York, Brooklyn, that opened on November 17, thanks to a $500,000 gift from talk show and food celebrity Rachel Ray.

While there, the pets receive veterinary service, food and care until their owners are able to take them back to their homes. The population at the boarding facility is currently hovering around 200 animals.

ASPCA organizers originally anticipated the facility would stay open for 30 days but due to the level of the disaster, they have extended that time frame to Jan. 6, 2013. They are beginning to plan long-term solutions for animals permanently displaced or abandoned as some owners have not come forward yet to claim their pets. Owners are being asked to sign a form indicating that they will pick up their pets by Jan. 6; pets not retrieved by then will be considered abandoned. An online gallery of  “lost” pets at the emergency center includes strays originally taken in after Sandy by Animal Care & Control facilities.

One way pet-owners can prepare for the future emergencies is to decide in advance on a location for your pet to take refuge, such as at a friend’s home. The ASPCA also advises pet-owners to mount rescue stickers on a window that details the number and type of pets in the home. Keeping a pet’s medical information, such as vaccination records, in an easy to reach place is also important.

In addition to operating its own shelter, the ASPCA is also offering grant funding to affected animal welfare organizations in the area.

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