Nearly 350 cats and dogs from shelters near the Carolina coast arrived in Delaware Tuesday as part of an effort to keep them safe from Hurricane Dorian and to make space for new animals that may be displaced by the storm.
A plane carrying 191 dogs and cats from the Hilton Head area in South Carolina landed around midday at the Wilmington Airport in northern Delaware. Another 158 animals were expected to arrive by land on Tuesday evening. The flight was part of Wings of Rescue’s mission to fly endangered pets that are in high intake areas or in high-kill shelters. This mission was coordinated with the help of the American SPCA.
A chain of volunteers lined up alongside the plane filled with animals after it touched down. Meows from the cats could be heard as they were unloaded first, followed by the dogs. Organizers called for more zip-ties to better secure a crate holding one rambunctious pooch.
“Two shelters have been emptied, they are at risk of flooding, and those areas are evacuating,” said Linda Torelli of the Brandywine Valley SPCA which is coordinating the arrival and placement of these pets. “The pets we’re evacuating were already up for adoption in the shelters.”
The National Weather Service forecasts tropical storm force winds to start hitting the South Carolina coast early Wednesday. A hurricane warning for the southern coast in that state went into effect Tuesday at 11 a.m. The rest of the state and nearly all of North Carolina’s coast is under a hurricane watch.
The pets, mostly dogs, will be put up for adoption at BVSPCA and other shelters in the region.
“Most of the shelters in this area have stepped up and will be pulling animals from us today, tomorrow and through the end of the week to help these pets get homes,” Torelli said. Because this area has a high population of cats in shelters, most of the felines will continue on to shelters in New England.
The pets will be checked by veterinarians and be spayed or neutered before being made available for adoption.
“In a few days these are all going to be settled into adoption centers and finding forever homes,” she said.