While Miamians are scrambling to sandbag their homes and batten down the hatches for Hurricane Dorian, some people seem to be forgetting their four-legged friends. And worse, others are purposely cutting them loose before the storm.
Meg Sahdala, owner of the nonprofit Miami Animal Rescue, tells New Times that yesterday alone, the group rescued 17 dogs that were chained to trees or bushes or simply left outside in parking lots only days before Dorian is expected to pass by or through Florida. Sahdala says some people have abandoned their animals because they are more concerned about their own safety than their pets' and would rather not worry about them.
"People are leaving their animals out in the streets, and we're getting tons of calls about animals tied to bushes and trees," she says. "People are just thinking about themselves."
The animal rescue has received several calls from people who want the group to take their dogs during the storm, but Sahdala says the organization is not a boarding facility. The nonprofit doesn't even have a true headquarters — its home base is the Kendall Lakes PetSmart, where the group feeds animals and prepares them to be fostered and adopted.
Luckily, not everyone in Miami is an asshole: Sahdala says she's had several volunteers willing to foster dogs, and as of now, Miami Animal Rescue already has foster placements for the 17 dogs rescued yesterday. Some people have even offered to take two puppies at a time, which helps to keep them from crying.
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In preparation for the storm, Miami-Dade Animal Services is prepared to enter full emergency operations this weekend and will remain in service before and after Hurricane Dorian, according to a spokesperson.
"We continue to operate as usual, taking in any strays until told otherwise. We have more than 230 staff members ready to do alternating 12-hour shifts throughout the hurricane to make sure pets' needs are met," the spokesperson said.
The county's Pet Adoption and Protection Center, located at 3599 NW 79th Ave. in Doral, is hurricane-proof and almost new, according to Animal Services. Currently, 600 "four-legged friends" are housed there, and the shelter is still not at capacity, so it's ready to take in animals displaced during the storm.
"We encourage anybody who sees animals out in the streets before and during the storm to give us a call at 311," Animal Services tells New Times. "Our pets are part of our families too. Just like you prepare for children's needs, plan for your pets' needs."