Source: Family Features

Pets in Need

Helping Organizations That Provide Relief to Pets During Natural Disasters

MISSION, KS--(Marketwired - Sep 12, 2013) - (Family Features) When natural disasters strike, the stories of families displaced from their homes are often heart wrenching. While the media typically focus on people, there are other survivors of storms, wildfires and other forces of nature who also need our help.

Other victims of natural disasters

When Hurricane Sandy tore through the East Coast in 2012, it left thousands of miles of devastation and uprooted the lives of all in its path. Among those providing assistance to victims was PetSmart Charities, the largest funder of animal welfare in North America, and its photographer, Sherrie Buzby, whose pictures provide a chilling account of the pets affected by the storm.

"In the midst of all the chaos with the people...and just trying to make sure that people were safe, there were also nearly 30 million pets that were displaced during Hurricane Sandy," said Buzby, a New Jersey native. "And each one of those pets had a family behind it."

Helping one pet at a time

One of those pet parents was Shanna Nevarez and her miniature pinscher, Pedro. When forced from her home, Nevarez took refuge in a condemned homeless shelter because the hotels available to hurricane victims wouldn't allow pets. But PetSmart Charities worked alongside the ASPCA to set up a temporary shelter in Brooklyn where pets like Pedro stayed and received loving care for weeks, while their pet parents got back on their feet. PetSmart Charities supplied the shelter with critical items such as pet food, crates and leashes. 

Pedro is just one of more than 60,000 pets assisted by PetSmart Charities' Emergency Waggin' program after Hurricane Sandy. Since 2007, the program has provided grant funding and supplies to assist pets affected by large-scale disasters, as well as puppy mills and pet hoarding situations. For more information on this and other PetSmart Charities programs, visit

Easy ways to make a difference

Beyond emergency relief, there are many other ways to help pets in your community. Here are a few options you can pursue to help those who are unable to help themselves.

  • Save a life through adoption: There are so many deserving pets in shelters looking for forever homes. If you have the means to love and care for a pet, consider adoption. Not only will you find a forever companion, but you'll save a life at the same time.
  • Donate time and talents: Volunteer at local animal shelters in your area. Opportunities include much more than cleaning cages or walking dogs. If you're a photographer, consider donating pictures of pets to be posted on adoption websites. If you're a writer, consider writing stories about pets for adoption websites. The possibilities are endless.
  • Fundraise with family and friends: Raise money with those you know who are also passionate about animal welfare. These fundraising opportunities can include a car wash, silent auction, benefit concert or even a garage sale. Proceeds can go to local shelters or national animal welfare organizations working to end pet homelessness. 

If a disaster situation should hit your hometown, it's good to know there are others looking out for people and pets in need. With effort, you can also be a part of the solution through acts of kindness in your community.

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Vickie Rocco