Rescuing animals during disasters - United StatesIn a disaster, animals can’t ask for help
After Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 hurricane, slammed into southern Florida last month, many communities and homes were left in tatters. The storm was the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida since 1935, killing an estimated 126 people in the state. Additional human fatalities have been reported in Cuba, North Carolina and Virginia. Hundreds of homes were swept away and thousands more were severely damaged. In addition, numerous animal rescue organisations have been destroyed, including dozens of local wildlife rehabilitators and animal sanctuaries. In response, IFAW is sending emergency funds to two Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries accredited animal sanctuaries and two wildlife rehabilitators.
The sanctuaries reported that most of their infrastructure was destroyed and they suffered a loss of power, food and clean water, but fortunately their animals were safe. One of the sanctuaries, Little Bear Sanctuary located in Punta Gorda, provided us with a somber assessment of the damage caused by Hurricane Ian. Its founders chose to remain onsite to protect the 200 animals, including cows, horses, donkeys, pigs and birds, in their care. Flood waters drenched the sanctuary while 135 mph winds leveled all animal shelters and infrastructure and uprooted several large trees. The animals are currently safe, but in dire need of shelters and supplies.
Both wildlife rehabilitators reached out to IFAW through the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council to request emergency support as they are overwhelmed with wildlife in need of care and rehabilitation. Florida is incredibly rich in biodiversity, with over 4,300 known animal species, 269 of which are endemic. One rehabilitator said she’s received an influx of orphaned baby squirrels, opossums and rabbits due to the devastation brought by Hurricane Ian.
During the 2019 Australia bushfires, we identified a significant gap in disaster recovery efforts—many larger organisations receive the first and largest donations while smaller organisations or individual rehabilitators are often missed in the wake of these disasters. IFAW bridges this gap by supporting small organisations and individuals who dedicate their lives and personal funds to ensure wild animals are given a chance at life back in the wild.
Recovery from Hurricane Ian will take months or years. We’re committed to helping as much as we can.