SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — When the winds calm down and the flood waters recede, many animals will be found abandoned in the Hurricane Ian disaster zone.
“Our mission is to bring animals out of crisis and into care,” Keleigh Friedrich, Red Rover communications director, said.
Red Rover, a Sacramento-based nonprofit, has responded to more than 250 disasters and other crises.
“So, we can go out there and provide whatever sort of services, setting up temporary shelter, doing the daily care for these animals that is needed,” Friedrich said.
Red Rover has about 4,600 volunteers nationwide. And right now, some of them are waiting for word from local authorities in Florida that their services are needed.
“We have volunteers who are standing at the ready,” Friedrich said.
“And it typically takes one to three days before the requests for sheltering help come in,” Beth Gammie, director of field services, said.
Gammie is in Florida now. She lives there, and she is safe in Tallahassee. She is getting ready for a busy week ahead.
“I do expect we’ll be helping somewhere,” Gammie said.
She explains how sometimes evacuees don’t mean to leave their pets behind.
“You know, sometimes it’s hard to catch them. Or it’s hard to find them. As the storm starts to come in, they hunker down. So, it’s a lot of those things,” Gammie said.
She encourages pet owners in any disaster zone, whether it be floods or fires, to have a plan and the right supplies in place.
“Cages and crates — Enough for all your animals at your house or apartment because it’s just really hard to run around and try to get those at the last minute,” Gammie said.
But when pets are left behind, it’s nice to know volunteers are willing to step up on their behalf.
“If we’re lucky enough to witness the reunions between families and pets when they’ve been separated during a natural disaster, it is so heartwarming and really touching because people really do feel that their pets are family,” Friedrich said.
Red rover is looking for volunteers. People can sign up by taking an online training course. Visit redrover.org to learn more.