NEW YORK (AP) — Superstorm Sandy drove New York and New Jersey residents from their homes, destroyed belongings and forced them to find shelter for themselves — and for their pets, said owners, who recounted tales of a dog swimming through flooded streets and extra food left behind for a tarantula no one was willing to take in.
In New York City and on Long Island, the ASPCA has rescued more than 300 animals and treated or provided supplies to about 13,000, working with government and private animal welfare agencies, said ASPCA spokeswoman Emily Schneider.
City shelters took in about 400 animals along with their families in the first days after Sandy, Schneider said. There are now more than 100 in shelters with their owners, and a mobile animal medical clinic is cruising decimated neighborhoods in Queens' Rockaways and on Staten Island.
In New Jersey, the Humane Society deployed dozens of first responders using mobile units and boats to bring in about 60 displaced animals each day on the barrier islands hit by the storm.
The absence of animals that were lost or separated from their owners only adds to families' feelings of displacement and trauma, said members of emergency crews trying to rescue both.
Two weeks after Sandy made landfall on the Atlantic shore, search-and-rescue teams are being led by Animal Care & Control of NYC, a city-contracted nonprofit responding to hotline calls about pets in distress. Callers are owners forced to leave animals behind or unable to care for them, or people who see them wandering in hard-hit areas.
A Manhattan shelter takes in animals round the clock, hoping for owners to show up.
And social media teams scour the Internet for reports of lost pets, helping reunite them with owners.
Rescuing animals is mandatory under federal law, which requires local and state governments to include plans for pets in emergency procedures. Federal Emergency Management Agency funds go toward the welfare of animals in disaster zones.