ROANOKE, Va. – As Hurricane Florence gets closer, local animal shelters are getting ready and trying to find space for fur babies ahead of the hurricane.
The Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection is currently overwhelmed with dogs and cats. Many of those are strays. RCACP is offering free adoptions this week to clear out the kennels and make room for new animals. Staff members are also asking owners with missing animals to contact the shelter.
"We are an open intake shelter, so when the animals come here we have to take them in. So we want to make sure we have that room," said Melinda Rector, director of operations for RCACP.
The room is needed because when the storm rolls through, many animals will likely end up at RCACP.
Over at Angels of Assisi, it's the same.
"We had 13 adoptions yesterday which was great, but we still have about 300 animals in our care," said Matthew Brown, director of lifesaving operations for Angels of Assisi.
Angels has waived its cat adoption fees, and dog adoptions are $30. One reason for the clear out -- the shelter expects to be a rescue shelter for dogs and cats in need from the hurricane's hardest hit areas.
"We're going to help the coastal areas after the storm, after we're sure the community doesn't need our help. In order to prepare for that, we need to make room in our shelter," said Brown.
But Angels is also focused locally, and with the shelter being located downtown, staff are already making evacuation plans for current animals, just in case.
Both Roanoke and Lynchburg also have emergency animal evacuation trailers on standby.
For pet owners, the ASPCA is urging you to take the following steps:
- If you evacuate, take your pets with you. Never leave your pets behind or tether them to poles or trees, which prevents them from escaping high waters and getting to safe areas.
- Make sure all pets are wearing ID tags with up-to-date contact information. The ASPCA also recommends micro-chipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification, should collars or tags become lost.
- Create a portable pet emergency kit with items including medical records, water, water bowls, pet food and your pet’s medications.
- Choose a designated caregiver, such as a friend or relative outside the evacuation zone, who can take care of your pet in the event you are unable.