On November 2nd, we received an urgent flight of animals surrendered in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. If you follow us on social media, it’s clear we always have our hands full with ongoing rescue efforts in Alabama and Mississippi, and some wondered - “but why this”? Many of our supporters may not know that the very beginnings of Sweet Paws Rescue (SPR) was conceived in the aftermath of a similar disaster — Hurricane Katrina. Cynthia Sweet, founder of SPR, self-deployed to the Gulf and within the six weeks following the hurricane, aided in the identification, rescue, and transport of 600 dogs to rescue groups throughout the country. These were dogs on euthanasia lists, in overflowing shelters, simply put - dogs that did not have a chance for survival. Hurricane rescue is at the core of SPR and this was hard for us to turn away from.
This flight of 30 gave these animals a second chance at life. As long as people are left with the single heartbreaking decision to surrender their beloved pet, we will continue to aid in these rescue efforts. It took a small army of great people and partner organizations to make this happen including - Alaqua Animal Refuge, Wings of Rescue, Red Rover, IFAW, and Greater Good.org. Thank you to the Salem News and Gloucester Times for sharing this story. This was a bittersweet rescue - as happy as we were to receive these pets, our hearts are broken for the families they left behind.
Neither Cynthia Sweet, nor SPR, advocate self-deployment in response to natural disasters. Since Hurricane Katrina, there are certification requirements to respond in an official capacity, which keep responders and animal victims safe. Cynthia is now FEMA certified and trained in Swiftwater Rescue, Flood and Slackwater Rescue, and Boat Operations and was recently deployed in response to Hurricane Florence to North Carolina. Resources for training can be found through Code 3 Associates and EERU. If you want to help from home, please open your homes to foster or adopt - keeping that pipeline of displaced animals moving from the south to the north will save lives.
Photos by Sarah Jayne Photography