By Amy Sinatra Ayres
These puppies were found during Sandy and adopted out together.Joanne Monez lay on a bed with her rescue's resident cats, worrying as floodwaters rose around her. It was the only island of safety she could find as Superstorm Sandy ravaged her one-story Queens, N.Y., home - which also served as a cat shelter.
"My fear was that if [the water] got any higher, I might have to go to my attic for safety, but felt the resident adult cats would try to follow me," which would put them in danger, says Monez, who's the director of All About Spay Neuter. With the mattress soaked, the water finally started to subside, and volunteers arrived at her door to help.
Sadly, Monez lost two of the 40 cats she was caring for, and her home-and-shelter was no longer livable. With the help of emergency grants and donations from supporters, she quickly moved to a new location and has a grand reopening planned for Jan. 20, but the group still needs help to recover its losses.
Across the hardest-hit parts of New York and New Jersey, there are similar stories of hardships at shelters - like the Humane Society of Atlantic County in New Jersey, which had several inches of flooding in its kennels and veterinary hospital, and Rescue Ink in Long Beach, N.Y., which was able to save its animals but is rebuilding after losing everything else in the storm's destruction.
Just over two months since the storm devastated the area, displacing pets and wreaking havoc on shelters in its path, a few things stand out: volunteers who braved days on end with no electricity to care for animals, thousands of dollars in losses and tales of shelters helping shelters. As they get back on their feet, many are still in need of help, from funding to supplies and volunteer time.
"It really strained resources and tested the abilities of the shelter community and rescue organizations," says Brian Shapiro, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States. "Lessons are going to be learned about what worked, what didn't work … Even though this was a disaster, at the same time, I think it's going to make all parties stronger." (Watch a video about the work of HSUS in New York and New Jersey on YouTube.)
Though there are surely many other animal groups that need help, Vetstreet rounded up information from several shelters and rescues in the region. Below, learn how they weathered the storm and how you can lend a hand.
How They Weathered the Storm: The home where the shelter was located was flooded with 4 feet of salt water, which destroyed everything in its path. The group was able to move into a new location the same night that a nor'easter struck. A Manhattan shelter, Animal Haven, jumped in to help, taking five of the adult cats and finding homes for four of them.
Current Status: The group received grants from Petfinder and the ASPCA to help with rent, utilities and supplies to get started, and volunteers worked every weekend to paint, put up cabinets, assemble cat trees and get their new home ready. They're planning a grand opening this month.
How You Can Help: All About Spay Neuter is always looking for food and litter and volunteers to help with their kittens and with a fundraiser it's holding on April 13. You can find more information here.
How They Weathered the Storm: Located in a flood plain, the shelter went without heat, power and running water for more than a week just after the storm, and the building sustained $200,000 in damage, according to information from Merrick Pet Care.
Current Status: The shelter is completely out of room.
Lesson Learned: "Everyone needs to get their pet microchipped so they can be easily identified," says Dorothy Loguidice, volunteer coordinator. "Those families that chipped their pet before the storm had a much easier time tracking down and reuniting with them."
How You Can Help: The shelter desperately needs skilled tradesmen to help rebuild (drywall damage, heating systems, etc.). They also need volunteers who can commit to training and then helping out around the shelter on a regular basis (taking dogs for walks, cleaning kennels, clerical work, etc.). You can find more information here.Rescue Ink, Long Beach, N.Y.
How They Weathered the Storm: This shelter, which cares for animals who've been abused and neglected, was under 5 feet of water in the storm. The group has "lost everything," including medical supplies, computers and vehicles used for animal transport. (You can watch video showing the destruction below.)
Current Status: The animals are living in a temporary shelter. The Long Beach shelter "is cleaned out now and waiting for inspection from the city to find out what else needs to be done to open the facility back up," says Joe Panz, one of the group's founding members.
How You Can Help: Rescue Ink needs donations to rebuild. You can find more information here.
More on Vetstreet.com:
* Man Finds Homes for 7,000 Dogs
* 13 Largest Dog Breeds That Are Towering and Commanding
* 4 Household Items That Work Wonders on Pet Stained Carpets
See Also: A Veterinarian's Surprise Confession