Sometimes, people need to pull together and offer each other support. When tragic and unexpected incidents occur, it is important that communities are there for each other. While this usually involves humans supporting each other, there are also examples of how groups have come to the aid of animals in their time of need. This is exactly what happened when Hurricane Barry hit Arkansas Hurricane Barry hit the United States in July 2019 after emerging from the Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane traveled across five states, including Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi. It also hit South Ontario in Canada. Hurricane Barry caused widespread devastation.
When the hurricane hit Arkansas, it dumped over six inches of rain on the state in just seven hours. One place that was badly affected was Arkadelphia. This town suffered serious flooding as a result of the heavy rainfall, which affected both residential and commercial properties. However, it was not just local homes and businesses that were affected by the flooding; it also hit the Humane Society of Clark County, which is a local rescue center. At the time, there were 70 dogs living in the kennels at the shelter. The kennels were drenched in the floodwater during the flooding, meaning it was not safe for the dogs to remain, says Yahoo!.
Staff and volunteers made a bid for support from the community. They took to social media to make their plea, asking if there were local people who could help them by taking a dog or two to their homes for a few hours. They supported their Facebook plea with a picture of flooding in the shelter in the hope that local residents would see it and come to their aide. Fortunately, there were many kind-hearted members of the community living locally who were more than happy to come to the rescue of the dogs. Within just a few hours of the rescue center staff posting about their situation, all 72 dogs were temporarily rehoused. Sadly, one dog later lost its life in the flooding and the rescue center also lost food, medical supplies, and equipment. However, the staff is still delighted with the response they got from the community and described it as a miracle that the community supported them the way they did.
In a later Facebook update, the shelter posted that they were getting ongoing support with cleaning and donations were flooding in to help them get the rescue shelter up and running again. Although they still have some way to go before things are back to the way they were, they are making great progress thanks to all the support they have received. Now that the dogs have been rehoused, the focus of the rescue shelter is to find forever homes for the cats that are in their care. They are also continuing to rebuild the damaged parts of the shelter. Unfortunately, the Society of Clark County was not the only rescue shelter that was put in peril because of Hurricane Barry, so this story is not as unusual as it sounds. In fact, some rescue stories are even more dramatic.
Two other rescue shelters that faced a similar situation was St. Landry Parish Animal Control and St. Martin Animal Shelter in Louisiana, says People. The flooding caused by Hurricane Barry put the lives of 120 pets living in the shelter at risk. Their rescue was more dramatic than the animals that were rescued from the shelter in Arkansas, as the cats and dogs in Louisiana were airlifted to safety. This was a rescue mission that was coordinated by the Humane Society of the United States. They were removed from the animal shelter and taken out of Louisiana before being put on a plane and heading for Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia, just outside Washington D.C.
The rescue mission was necessary because both animal shelters were directly in the path of Hurricane Barry. The decision was made to evacuate the animals before the storm hit to prevent the pets from suffering the ordeal of the storm. A further reason for this decision was so that both St. Landry Parish Animal Control and St. Martin Animal Shelter were both left empty. This then made them available to help animals who were lost, displaced, or injured during the hurricane. All the animals that were evacuated from the shelters arrived at their destination safely, and they are now living in rescue shelters around Virginia and Washington D.C. They are all continuing their search for their forever home.
The Humane Society of the United States that ran this evacuation is continuing to support victims of the hurricane. They are working to reunite pets and owners who were separated because of the hurricane, and they are treating animals that were injured. A spokesperson for the HSUS said that their thoughts were with the families and their pets who were having to evacuate their homes in Louisiana because of Hurricane Barry. The President and CEO of the organization, Kitty Block, added that they were reaching out to groups and individuals and were offering advice for suitable practices in response to the hurricane.
In her statement, Block also said that the HSUS is working alongside various authorities to implement the appropriate response actions to ensure the welfare of any animals affected by the hurricane. Block warned that as the hurricane season has only just begun, it is likely that the HSUS will respond to many more incidents in the coming months. She advised people to remember that if the conditions are not safe for humans to go out, then they are also not safe for their pets. Along with others working for the HSUS, Block is currently working on creating a preparedness kit that pet owners can use for their pets in the event of a hurricane. This includes advisory material that provides pet owners with tips for keeping themselves and their pets safe.