September is ‘National Disaster Preparedness Month,’ (#bepreparednotscared) and the SPCA Albrecht Center is getting ready for the upcoming hurricane season, which has devastated the Atlantic coast over the last few years. Luckily, the CSRA is inland and has not been severely affected by these storms, other than heavy rain and winds. However, our friends to the south and east have not been so lucky.
In 2016, Hurricane Matthew, the first Category 5 hurricane since 2007, caused catastrophic destruction to Haiti and along the southeastern coast. Just a short year later, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey rocked the Atlantic, and in 2018 Hurricane Florence and Michael hit the Carolinas and Florida coast with a vengeance. Though the SPCA Albrecht Center and other area shelters were safe from these storms, neighboring communities were preparing for a direct hit.
As part of a ‘disaster plan,’ a call went out from coastal shelters to inland shelters to assist in transporting homeless animals out of harm’s way. Shelters, rescues and national organizations from all over the country stepped up to provide a safe haven for hundreds of vulnerable animals each year, and between the five powerful storms, the SPCA Albrecht Center took in a total of 79 dogs and three bunnies. This not only kept coastal shelter animals out of the hurricanes’ paths, but also allowed shelters closer to the impacted areas to have space for emergency intakes after the storm surge.
With a full shelter, we housed these animals in our Education Center. Staff and volunteers worked around the clock to ensure each and every animal felt safe, and was well-fed and exercised. Fosters stepped up to prevent overcrowding, and adopters came from all over the CSRA to meet and take home one of the new additions to the SPCA family.
We are so grateful for your humbling and gracious support during the previous hurricane seasons and in other times of crises; and, as we brace for the 2019 hurricane season, we are calling upon our amazing supporters to help us prepare for the imminent time when we take in animals from the coast.
The SPCA Albrecht Center is asking for your continued support during 'National Disaster Preparedness Month.' The 2019 hurricane season is expected to last until November 30th, and we are hoping to take time before the forthcoming season to prepare so we can better help our friends on the coast. On our website, supporters can find our ‘Wish List,’ detailing items that we are always in need of at the shelter. From towels and blankets to food and toys, we welcome donated supplies that are needed to provide a quality of care for our shelter animals: LetLoveLive.org/Donate.
In addition to supplies, we are asking supporters to donate their time. Volunteers and fosters are vital to our organization. They work tirelessly to ensure our animals get the care and find the homes they deserve. During times of crisis, volunteers come in to walk our dogs and help keep their kennels clean and cozy, and fosters make room for incoming homeless animals by caring for one of our amazing shelter animals in their home.
By becoming a volunteer for the SPCA Albrecht Center, you are a volunteer for life. Whether you are only interested in volunteering during hurricane season, or would like to come in regularly, our animals are grateful for every minute you are willing to give. You can find out how to become a volunteer on our website: LetLoveLive.org/Volunteer. Here, supporters can see all of the opportunities available to volunteers, and pick a date for an upcoming Shelter 101 Information Session.
Interested foster parents can fill out an online form at: LetLoveLive.org/Foster. Here, future foster families can indicate what kind of animals they are able to foster and provide information that will better help us place the right foster pet into their home. Once submitted, our staff will keep your information and contact you when we are in need of foster homes.
We wish all of you a safe hurricane season, and remember to plan ahead for you and your pet:
Evacuate With Your Pets
Please do not leave your pets behind in the storm.
Make plans now to get your pet checklist accomplished:
Have recent photos of your pet, in case he or she is lost
Make sure your pet’s collar is secured and that the ID tag is up-to-date
Get your pet microchipped
Place medicine in a waterproof container
Bring any medical records you have (a great idea is to email them to yourself)
Bring a crate for your animal when you evacuate
Bring food, water and toys
Don't forget garbage bags
--Charleston Animal Society (CharlestonAnimalSociety.org/Hurricane)
An Aiken native and self-proclaimed cat lady, Claire Grimes is the SPCA Albrecht Center’s Development Director. She attended College of Charleston, where she graduated with a degree in Nonprofit Business and interned with Charleston Animal Society, the leader in No-Kill South Carolina. She is excited to now be working in animal welfare in her hometown and is proud of the community's robust efforts to better the lives of Aiken’s animals. Her family includes her husband, adopted black lab Ozzy, and two always-hungry kitties, Anakin and Luna (plus, in spirit, her late pup Sophie).