Animal Abuse During Hurricane Irma: Pets Left Behind in the Storm

PetMD Editorial
Published: September 13, 2017
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Hurricane Irma was a devastating, Categoery 5 storm that left a path of death and destruction in the Caribbean and the United States.

While thousands of prepared pet parents did the right thing and ensured their beloved animals either came with them or had a safe haven to stay in, others in Florida did the unthinkable. 

According to local Palm Beach news affiliate WPTV, more than 50 animals were left tethered to trees, poles, or parked cars to fend for themselves as the deadly storm was making its way inland. 

"Even a tiny bit of sand can hurt an animal when it’s traveling through 100-plus mph winds," stated Diane Suave, director of Animal Care for Palm Beach County.

Suave, who urged anyone in the area to bring in any abandoned cats or dogs, called the acts "unconscionable." 

She wasn't alone in her anger: State Attorney Dave Aronberg called the situation a "prime example of animal cruelty" and assured he would track down and prosecute anyone who left their animals outside during the storm. 

In the wake of the news, Aronberg has since tweeted, "We take animal cruelty very seriously here in PBC." By speaking out, Aronberg has won the praise of many, including PETA, who applauded him for his efforts post-Irma. 

"By pledging to find and prosecute anyone who left an animal behind to suffer and die during Hurricane Irma, [Aronberg] has sent the message that animal abandonment is illegal and will not be tolerated," said PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch, in a statement released to petMD. 

Nachminovitch added that their teams have seen firsthand the horrors that can happen when pets are left behind in major storms. "Anyone who evacuates is required by law to take their animals with them or make adequate arrangements to keep them safe, and those who abandon their animals to die in terror should face cruelty charges," she asserted.

Image via Shutterstock 

Read more: Natural Disaster Planning for Pets