LARGO — Dozens of cats and dogs from the Florida Panhandle were brought to the Tampa Bay area Friday after Hurricane Sally left animal shelters there without power and water.
Hurricane Sally made landfall about 30 miles from Pensacola last week, battering the region with 105 mph winds that brought down power lines and torrential rains that caused floods high enough to submerge cars. Authorities believe at least two people in the region have died due to the hurricane.
SPCA Tampa Bay, a nonprofit animal shelter, worked with Louisiana SPCA to plan a rescue trip and transported 28 cats and 20 dogs from Pensacola animal welfare agencies.
“The shelters in this area have a really good network, especially when it comes time to helping each other out with these storms,” said SPCA Tampa Bay spokesman Eric Keaton. “We kind of expect it every year.”
Members of Louisiana SPCA picked up the animals Friday and brought them to a small town outside of Tallahassee, where a team from SPCA Tampa Bay took over. They arrived back in Largo at about 10:30 p.m.
From there, the agency’s veterinarian technicians will check the animals' records and make sure they have been immunized, chipped and are spayed or neutered, Keaton said. A member of the behavioral team will evaluate some of them to make sure their records match.
“Volunteers come in bright and early every morning to walk the dogs and assess their behavior and actions, and give notes to our team so we make sure we are able to match them to the forever home,” Keaton said. It costs the shelter about $25 a day to care for the animals, he said. Hills Pet Nutrition recently donated four pallets of pet food to help the shelter cope with animals displaced by this year’s storms.
On Saturday, three of the dogs — pit bull terrier mixes each about a year old — were already on the shelter’s adoption floor. By Sunday, all three were adopted, Keaton said.
More dogs and cats will be posted on the adoption floor, which can be found online, after they have been processed in the coming weeks, Keaton said.