Local animal shelters prepare for evacuees’ pets


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Most evacuation centers and hotels are not allowing animals. Local animal shelters are making sure no furry friend gets left behind.

Hurricane Dorian families are evacuating their homes, which means four-legged family members won’t be able to stay at the evacuation centers with them.

In Aiken, SPCA’s animal shelter brought in 18 evacuee dogs from Charleston.

“Greenwood Humane Society came down and took two of the 18 dogs that we have, so we have a system of shelters that work together and try to get animals out of harms way.” says Barbara Nelson, President and CEO of SPCA.

The shelter is full — with nearly 200 animals already being housed. So, evacuee pets are being put into an overflow. Nelson says they do their best to help in times like these, but they only have so much room.

“We are not an evacuation for the public pets. We occasionally do take them in a distressed case, but this is our education center. This wasn’t made for holding dogs,” says Nelson.

A different story in Augusta, where Animal Services is trying to open up more space in its shelter through adoption.

“Between the rescue groups and the public coming in and adopting we actually were able to move 35 animals out of the shelter,” says Crystal Eskola, Animal Services Center Deputy Director.

But they know more animals will be flowing in as evacuees start to come. The shelter has assisted in taking in pets during hurricane evacuations before, so they’re prepared for whatever comes.

“There’s been times when we get been times when we get 3, and there’s been times when we get 50. It just depends. We have to be prepared,” says Eskola.

To prepare, workers and volunteers are cleaning, making accommodations, and setting up more kennels so no pet is turned away.

The shelter will personally be going to evacuation centers to pick up animals and do the paperwork to take the pets in. Eskola tells me it’s tough separating the animals from their owners

“Oh it’s tough. They’ll be crying, we’ll be crying. Yeah it’s hard. Until we have further clarification on how many animals we’ll be getting and maybe until the end when they let people return to Chatham County we’re not going to take an owner’s renters,” says Eskola.

The Augusta Animal Services Center also tells me while evacuees are here, they will still be able to come and visit their pets during the center’s operation hours.

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