VERO BEACH – On Friday, the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County (HSVB) announced it will accept animals for foster care from residents evacuating Puerto Rico and all other islands impacted by Hurricane Maria.
The Vero Beach pet shelter is offering free care for the animals of those fleeing on a temporary, space-available basis for up to four weeks.
“This is clearly a humanitarian crisis. As flights arrive from Puerto Rico, people bringing pets may need our help,” HSVB Executive Director Michael Mandel said. “Our goal is to alleviate stress by helping families with pets, so they have one less thing to worry about as they get back on their feet after this devastating storm,” he added.
With Florida’s Puerto Rican population surpassing one million in 2016, the number of frantic evacuees and their pets seeking refuge with friends and family will likely surge in the following weeks and months.
According to HSVB Director of Operations Maria Ramirez, the shelter’s staff and volunteers at the Humane Society of Vero Beach are highly skilled in disaster response and have rescued and cared for animals after numerous disasters in Florida and across the U.S.
In 2005, the shelter dispatched trained staff and volunteers to Mississippi immediately after Hurricane Katrina and again in 2011 to Missouri after a tornado devastated the city of Joplin.
“Like everyone else who is trying to help, our Humane Society team is eager to provide immediate relief; however, we’re facing the same obstacles as other responders,” Ramirez said. “Since it’s presently next to impossible for us to deploy to Puerto Rico or offer other assistance, this is our way of helping and showing support for those families who are suffering through this tragedy.”
The shelter is asking for donations of money, blankets, sheets, towels and large pet crates, pet carriers, leashes, and treats.
To request assistance, make a donation or for more information, call the Humane Society in Vero Beach at (772) 388-3331 ext. 129 and 130.