‘Hurricane Cowboy’ and Humane Society Ride in to Rescue Animals in Carolinas

There are many unfortunate consequences of disasters. One of them is pets and other animals getting separated from their owners.

It’s sad to think about, but in the rush of a mandatory evacuation, there’s not always time to save Fido.

Sometimes these animals get injured, lost or even killed. And often their sorrowful owners never find out what happened.

But sometimes owners and their beloved pets are reunited. And then there is much rejoicing.

Hurricane Florence is a prime example of a weather event that separated pets from owners. But this recent storm that rocked the Carolinas is also an example of joyful reunions.

Rescue and Transport Operations

The Humane Society of the U.S. Animal Rescue Team provided support for Hurricane Florence by:

  • Providing financial and logistical support for evacuations. Workers evacuated more than 400 adoptable animals from shelters in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
  • Assisting local authorities and rescue partners in field rescues. Workers saved more than 100 animals in Horry County, South Carolina.
  • Transporting about 150 adoptable animals out of Brunswick County, North Carolina. This increased the community’s ability to care for animal flood victims.

Companies Step up to Help

“Our role in the Carolinas is to alleviate the suffering of animals and families impacted by Florence and the subsequent flooding,” said Sara Varsa. She’s the vice president of animal rescue for the Humane Society of the United States.

“By helping families evacuate their pets as flood waters rise and responding to calls for animals in need of rescue, we are honored to be able to make a difference for animals and often, humans, in their time of need.”

Several companies also stepped up with contributions of pet food and funds. They included Walmart, Sam’s Club, GreaterGood.org and Halo Purely for Pets.

San Diego Team Rushes In

Here’s something that warms my heart. It’s when I see people coming from different parts of the country to help following a disaster.

An example is the San Diego Humane Society’s Emergency Response Team. They recently traveled to South Carolina, rescuing more than 100 animals from rising floodwaters.

This team included San Diego Humane Law Enforcement officers. During their 10-day trip, they rescued dogs, cats, a goat, two young bulls and a heifer. And, a 150-pound pig.

They were successful partly because of their swift-water rescue technique training. And they have Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certification.

“I had a great team with me,” said Sergeant Laurel Monreal, a San Diego Humane Law Enforcement officer. “Everybody did what needed to be done at the time it needed to be done.”

Hurricane Cowboy Comes to the Rescue

Another team of volunteers that came to the aid of separated animals was from Virginia. They were led by a man known as the “Hurricane Cowboy.”

Patrick McKann earned his nickname by providing aid in Texas following Hurricane Harvey. He is a horse trainer and former bull rider.

First they worked hard in Pender County, North Carolina. Then McKann’s team moved into the devastated areas of South Carolina.

The team rescued larger livestock such as horses, donkeys and chickens. Plus the usual assortment of dogs and cats.

A Missouri Team Also Makes the Trek to Help

A team from Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO) drove all the way to North Carolina to rescue animals trapped by the storms.

“Every morning, we received our missions for the day and we were given what possible rescues are out there that we need to go look into,” Chad Gard, one of HSMO’s Disaster Team members said.

A small Maltese name Soshe did not make it out of Burgaw, North Carolina, before Hurricane Florence made landfall Sept. 14. The dog became trapped in its house for about a week, completely alone. As flood waters started to rise, so did the furniture. Soshe was stuck on a couch as it floated around the home, until the HSMO rescue team came to save him and reunite him with his owner.

This is not the first time HSMO has responded to a natural disaster outside of its home state. Last year, the team went to Houston to help rescue animals after Hurricane Harvey.

Hurricane Harvey Rescues

Speaking of Hurricane Harvey… Here are a few details from animal rescues occurring after that catastrophic storm.

  • Two of Marilyn Kilgore’s pets survived the hurricane inside her flooded home. Workers found Princess the cat holed up in a box spring. Jimmy John the blue Beta fish was found swimming in his bowl that was resting on one of the floor’s few dry spots.
  • Aaron Vargas and his family were reunited with their dog, Tank, who went missing during the storm. The Houston Humane Society found him and cared for him for two weeks before they located the family.
  • Garfield the cat was rescued by GreaterGood.org. He was then transported by boat to Candace Windham and her son, Carter, after their separation.

There are many more such stories, but you get the idea. Extreme weather events take lives, destroy homes and knock out power. But when caring people come to the aid of pets and their owners, it reveals the silver lining in the storm.

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