Hurricane Ian devastated Southwestern Florida last week and wreaked havoc on people and animals alike. Prior to the massive hurricane reaching land, pleas went out to animal rescue organizations across the country to help evacuate shelter animals who were in the path of the hurricane.

When a disaster is anticipated, standard procedure is to clear out as many shelter animals prior to the disaster to make room for the expected animals displaced during the disaster. The reason for this is so that animals who are lost or displaced after the hurricane can stay in local shelters and, hopefully, be reunited with their family. However, as most shelters and rescues across the country are operating at capacity, it is difficult to help hurricane-displaced animals if all the kennels are already full. Therefore, it is essential to clear out as many animals from local shelters as possible prior to a hurricane or other anticipated natural disaster.

At the beginning of last week after it became clear that the hurricane damage would be catastrophic, the SPCA Albrecht Center began reaching out to partner shelters offering assistance. Last Wednesday, we sent two employees to our partners at the Charleston Animal Society to assist in hurricane relief efforts. Shelter animals were being relocated from Southwest Florida, including from the Naples Humane Society and Naples Animal Services. The animals were transported to Charleston Animal Society and then further transported to other rescue organizations, including the SPCA Albrecht Center. In total, the SPCA Albrecht Center took in 11 cats from this rescue operation. All of the animals transported out of impacted communities in advance of the hurricane are unowned and will be made available for adoption in the coming weeks. While we were already operating near capacity with over 250 animals in our care, it was important for us to help as best we could during this time of national emergency.

After Hurricane Ian devastated Florida, it made another landfall on coastal South Carolina. Fortunately, the impact was not as severe, but the SPCA Albrecht Center remains on standby this week to help any of our coastal rescue partners as needed. We remain in contact with partners, both in Southwest Florida and South Carolina, and will help as we can this week. If you want to help in hurricane rescue efforts, we have an urgent need for fosters. The SPCA Albrecht Center has a finite number of kennels, but there are significantly more foster families in the area who can help. Fostering is fun and free – the SPCA Albrecht Center provides supplies, and you provide short-term housing for a homeless animal in need. More information about fostering is on our website at

We hope that Hurricane Ian will be the worst hurricane we see this season. However, since hurricane season continues until Nov. 30 and the National Weather Service is monitoring additional tropical disturbances in the Atlantic Ocean, we offer some tips for preparing your family pets for future hurricanes. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division provides great advice on preparing an emergency plan for your pets. Tips include:

• Have a cage/carrier for each pet – a means of containment will be needed anywhere you go.

• Choose an identification method for each animal, such a microchip and/or ID tags on the collar.

• Have photos of yourself with your animals to prove ownership if you become separated.

• Keep your animals’ immunizations, (especially rabies) current and be sure to have copies of all important documents.

• Maintain a disaster “GO KIT” for each pet in a quickly accessible site: cage/carrier (large enough to stand and turn around in), leash, harness, bowls, three days of water and food, medications, health records/care instructions, microchip numbers, litter box/litter and clean-up supplies.

If you are interested in adopting one of the hurricane animals, or any the wonderful animals we have available, now is a great time to adopt. We are currently participating in an Empty the Shelters event and waiving adoption fees for adult animals. Please come to the SPCA Albrecht Center, 199 Willow Run Road, during open hours (11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday) and see all the great adoptable animals waiting for a forever home. The more animals we get into homes, either through fostering or adoption, the more displaced animals we can help in the future.