By Heidi Sutton
Amid mandatory evacuation orders in the Carolinas and Virginia in advance of Hurricane Florence, many fleeing residents left their pets behind to fend for themselves. For those pets lucky enough to be rescued, they were brought to area shelters already full to capacity. When news spread the animals would start being
euthanized if no one adopted them, Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton quickly joined other outreach groups to make a difference.
Working in conjunction with Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, the shelter took in 12 dogs two weeks ago. “We then sent our own truck down to South Carolina and when they came back last Monday night they had 17 more,” said Pamela Green, Kent’s executive director.
The most recent group of dogs came from South Carolina’s Marlboro and Horry counties, two of the hardest hit areas devastated by flooding. “Those counties were still pretty much under water as recent as last Tuesday so those dogs were from people who lost their homes and relinquished the animals,” Green said. “The people probably don’t have places to live themselves at this point.”
The new arrivals range in age from 9 weeks to 4 years and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The executive director said there are hound mixes “which are common in the South” as well as Labrador mixes and a few Chihuahuas. While many have already been adopted, all the dogs will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before going to their new homes.
Shelters in areas ravaged by Hurricane Florence announced earlier this week that they are temporarily halting the transport of animals to give residents more time to reclaim their dogs. For the staff at Kent, however, this is only a short reprieve as they are expecting 10 dogs to arrive Sunday from a Missouri puppy mill.
According to Green, the shelter is always looking for foster homes. “Sometimes the animals we get in are a bit traumatized. In the case of the hurricane, they’ve already been exposed to some trauma so then they are transported a very long way and by the time they get here they’re pretty scared or nervous,” she said, adding, “Those animals usually come around more quickly in a foster home.”
Financial donations and supplies such as canned cat and dog food, paper towels, bleach, cat litter, treats, towels and blankets are also appreciated.
Kent Animal Shelter celebrates its golden anniversary this year. The private not-for-profit, located along the Peconic River, opened its doors in 1968. It rescues and finds homes for over 700 dogs and cats each year. “We had almost 100 adoptions this July alone,” said Green proudly, who has been at the helm of the no-kill facility for over 30 years.
Several events have been planned to commemorate the anniversary including the upcoming Wines and Canines Run/Walk fundraiser at the Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard in Calverton Oct. 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person at www.kentanimalshelter.com.
For Green, working at the shelter is a labor of love filled with rewards and happy endings. “I’ve been doing this for 33 years and I still come to the same office because I feel that we are really making a difference here. Maybe we’re not going to save all the animals, but just saving the ones that we can get to changes their lives and changes the lives of people too,” she said. “I still get so much joy out of seeing an animal leave the shelter and go to a new home. It’s the greatest thing – it makes my day.”