Authorities in South Florida may charge people with felonies for abandoning their pets, leaving them no chance to escape in the path of Hurricane Irma.
Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control director Diane Sauve said the agency rescued about 40 dogs in the days before Hurricane Irma hit Florida, according to USA Today. Sauve said some were tied up and others were put in pens or enclosed yards with no means to escape.
“There is absolutely no excuse for doing that,” Sauve said.
The Florida Department of Health made a statement on Twitter on Sunday about it. “Do not leave your dogs tied up or chained when evacuating,” the health department stated. “Floodwaters are dangerous for people & pets. #Irma”
Sauve said her agency will pursue felony animal cruelty charges if they are able to gather enough evidence and find and identify a pet’s owners, USA Today reported.
The Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control agency’s shelter also took in about 60 cats and dogs that were given up by their owners.
They won’t be able to reclaim their pets when they return, Sauve told the Sun-Sentinel.
“We are pretty clear when you surrender your animal you give up your rights,” she said.
The animal agency also gave tips on how to treat and handle dogs during the hurricane.
– Don’t let your dog out right after the storm passes, it’s going to be confused by the damage and debris. Animal caretakers see an a spike in animal injuries after storms because animals get cut and caught on debris.
– If you come upon an abandoned pet, use caution. The combination of confused dogs and stressed people result in an uptick of dog bites after storms.
Please help spread the word that if people treat animals like this, they’ll face prison time