Hurricane Irene Hits Virginia

Posted on by PETA

Amidst severe flooding and heavy rain, PETA US staffers have been out in force to respond to emergency animal cases as a result of Hurricane Irene which has so far killed more than 21 people, countless animals and left an estimated two million people without power.

What follows is an account from Ingrid Newkirk – PETA US’s Founder:

“It’s Sunday morning, our building is in tatters, two of our vehicles have  cried “uncle,” but we have two more, and they and we are still going strong. We are all so glad to keep getting the calls. Last night was very hard indeed: our journeys took us into dark, deserted streets without traffic lights, deep in water, all bridges closed, tunnels and many roads impassable, tree limbs blowing about like kudzu. It took us longer to get a mile than to go five on a good day. We often had to turn back to find a new route through to our destination as cars were abandoned, their lights below the water. But it was a successful night for some animals! I shan’t tell you about them all as we are leaving again now, but just a few of our rescues.

Just before dark, we received a call about a dog, named Nikita. The winds were nearing 70 mph. He had been in a pen, with only one sheet of wood above him for “shelter” for three days. His people had left town. He came with us. His PETA staff foster parents, report, “He is a real trooper…he was so happy to be inside. He warmed right up to us, within an hour he was running around like he’d always lived with us; we even played tug of war! He lay on the couch, the floor, the chair, with us, wherever we were, he was. At one time he heard a noise at the door, to which he promptly growled at the possible impending intruder, to scare them off and protect us, even after humans had wronged him.”

Early this morning, just as the water receded, leaving us to survey the extent of the damage to our building, a call came in from a fire department. A dog had wandered in, old and covered in mange, and collapsed on their floor.  The marks of where he once had a collar are around his neck, and he has more sores than hair. He is now , sleeping after a welcome meal.

Thank you to everyone for asking about us, to the staff who stayed in the swaying building all night, all the people who did not evacuate but stayed to take calls and go on them; our vice-president in charge of emergency response, who was out all night, and had to swim the final block home, her waders no longer tall enough (to her waist!) to keep the water out, the road to deep to drive through, only to be called out again.  Thank you to  the staff and volunteers and interns who made calls for three days straight to urge people to take their animals inside, and to operations crew who provided everything we needed; and to everyone out there now trying to remove the debris, and to so many more.”

Recovery from this disaster is going to take months. People in the hardest hit areas will continue to need pet food and veterinary supplies for weeks to come, as will the animal shelters, which will also need to house animals until their homeless guardians are able to find somewhere to live. You can help fund PETA US’ work and other rescue work by making an urgent donation