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Animal rescues emptying shelters for Florence fosters

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Area animal rescues have jumped into action, preparing for the worst and urging residents to do the same.

“Please go ahead and act on the front end of this storm and get to a pet-friendly hotel now with food, water, toys and two good leashes — including one slip lead to prevent dogs from shimmying free of collars and traditional leashes out of anxiety,” said Maggie Society founder Laurie Robl Brumfield. “Get that taken care of now, because it is going to be so much easier to take care of this stuff before the storm hits.”

Brumfield said in anticipation of the storm, the group rescued 15 dogs Sunday, 10 on Monday and another handful since between shelters in Wayne County and Farmville as well as taking in owner surrenders. These new rescues are on top of the nearly 50 dogs already being fostered by group volunteers and four new fosters who signed up in anticipation of Hurricane Florence.

“We have to provide immediate medical vaccinations and flea/tick/heartworm prevention for all the days we intake, so it is a huge financial burden,” she said. “Our medical bills are the biggest thing we have to worry about as a rescue. We always cover our bills, but it is a constant concern because sometimes we have fosters who can take the dogs, but we can’t cover the medical bills.”

Many have donated food to groups like the Maggie Society, but Brumfield as well as For the Love of Dogs co-owners Max and Della Fitz-Gerald said the biggest ask is financial donations. The Fitz-Geralds said the rescue on Quaker Road already has 110 dogs to care for during the storm, but have offered advice and even lent kennels for owners with outdoor dogs to allow animals to ride out the storm inside. Because For the Love of Dogs is on well water, the group also has a generator to ensure volunteers can keep the dogs hydrated.

“My observation of animals in high wind and rain is that they hunker down,” said Della Fitz-Gerald. “Many dogs already have anxiety about storms, but they’ll hunker down and make it through it.”

Owners should consider consulting a veterinarian for recommendations if pets are especially prone to anxiety.

For owners who have to evacuate with their pets, Brumfield urged residents to pack a bag for pups — complete with food, water, toys, a blanket for comfort and leashes — when packing for themselves. The shelter at Fike High School has a trailer to house animals, which Maggie Society volunteers will staff, but owners are required to bring proof of rabies shots with the vaccination certificate. She said having up-to-date contact information on collar tags is essential as is making sure pets are treated for fleas and ticks.

“This is a very scary and disturbing situation for people and for their pets,” said Della Fitz-Gerald.