(TNS) — If you have a pet, you need to bring it with you if you evacuate.
That’s what Beaufort County Animal Services, as well as veterinary hospitals and shelters across the county, are saying.
Beaufort County Animal Services will not be accepting owner surrenders until after the threat of Hurricane Irma passes.
Due to Hurricane Harvey, most of the department’s resources are over inundated and local staff has to focus on the 400 animals already at the shelter, according to Tallulah Trice, director of Beaufort County Animal Services.
Beaufort County Animal Services and Hilton Head Humane will go into homes after any storm, as they did after Hurricane Matthew, to check on reports of animals left behind, feral cats and other animal needs.
But still, Trice says that anyone who owns household pets and is evacuating needs to take the pets with them.
After seeing dogs left behind drown in their owners’ backyards after Hurricane Matthew, Trice said she’s taking this matter seriously.
“We had a lot of abandoned animals prior to Hurricane Matthew,” Trice said. “It’s just frustrating when you go up and there’s a dog, dead and drowning. Instead, go buy a crate, bring it with you. It’s far cheaper to buy a crate than to pay an animal cruelty fine.”
For those who abandon their animals, such as chaining up their dog in a backyard without food or water, they will be issued two citations — animal cruelty and abandonment.
Trice said that there are a lot of avenues outside the county where people can get help for their pets.
“There’s people opening up houses across the state for people with pets, if they can try sites like Airbnb or VRBO,” she said. “Even if they say they’re not pet friendly, just ask. You’d be surprised how many people will open their doors.”
Trice also recommended that if people know where they’ll be evacuating to, they should call local animal shelters and boarding facilities and ask if they can house their animals for a few days until the storm passes.
“Just reach out. Social media is awesome in this situation,” she said. “Someone will assist y’all, you just have to ask and they’ll expand their capabilities.”
In the event of an evacuation, Trice said pet owners should:
Maggie Angst: 843-706-8137, @maggieangst
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