Many Dogs Left Tied Up During Hurricane Irma – Owners Will Be Prosecuted
Dozens of dogs were rescued from being tied up and unable to escape Hurricane Irma, and their owners will face felony charges for it.

Palm Beach County, Florida, was one of the areas issuing mandatory evacuations for residents in order to save lives when Hurricane Irma hit the state.

The Miami streets were just about devoid of humans. Most fled to safety in other areas, or went to designated shelters.

Unfortunately, some of those residents who fled didn’t consider the lives of their pets to be worth saving. Dozens of dogs were found tied up to cars or confined to areas outside, with no hope of escape once the deadly storm hit.

Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control rescued more than 40 abandoned pets before the arrival of the storm. Neighbors and concerned residents called in reporting that some were tethered, while others were in enclosures or confined to yards, unable to escape if they needed to.

ACC Director Diane Sauve made a statement reminding the public that Palm Beach County has a strict no-tethering ordinance, and that these offenders would be pursued with felony charges for the cruel abandonment of their pets.

Sauve said there is absolutely no excuse for doing such a thing, and that abandonment is one of the worst things someone can do to their animal.

She also said that the agency will be attempting to gather enough information on ownership of each animal in order to pursue felony charges against those who so cruelly abandoned their pets.

In addition to those they saved from the streets, Palm Beach County AC&C also took in around 40 additional cats and dogs who were relinquished by their owners just before the storm. While this is not an unusual trend, Sauve said this is a higher number of pre-storm surrenders than usual.

Sauve said that while this is not unexpected, it is disappointing. There are two pet-friendly shelters in Palm Beach County for people to go to with their animals. The goal of these efforts is to keep people and their animals together.

Sauve reminded the public that pet relinquishment is permanent; once you give up your pet to the shelter, you cannot adopt it back. People surrendering their animals are also black-listed by the agency, meaning they will not be allowed to adopt animals in the future.

In addition to pleading with the public to not abandon their pets, Sauve offered additional advice to pet owners, some tips being:

  • Don’t let your dog out immediately after the storm passes; there is a spike in animal injuries observed after these storms because of the unexpected debris outside.
  • If you find an animal and need to save it, approach with caution. The terror produced by the situation may cause the animal to bite in fear.

Sauve is correct; there is no excuse for abandoning your animal before a storm. People get plenty of advance warning, along with many resources informing them about pet-friendly hotels and shelters.

Pet owners should always have a plan and a back-up plan in place for their animals in the event of any emergency or disaster.

The Department of Homeland Security even put together a plan to help pet owners prepare for the worst and keep their furry friends safe during emergencies. Pet owners should use these valuable resources in times of emergency to make sure their pets remain safe and homed before and after the event.

To volunteer or donate to the animal rescue efforts that will surely need to occur post-Irma, please visit this page.

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Cody has worked and volunteered with rescue animals her entire life. She worked as a veterinary assistant and technician in shelters, rescues, boarding facilities, doggy daycares and animal hospitals in New York and Chicago throughout her teens and twenties, and now resides as a pet foster mom in Upstate New York.