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Evacuated From Florida, Adoptable Animals Scatter Around Ohio

Wings of Rescue
Wings of Rescue evacuates dogs and cats from Florida shelters ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Hundreds of pets from Florida are being offered for adoption around the state of Ohio after arriving in Columbus this weekend before Hurricane Irma.

Of the 160 dogs and cats from West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, about three dozen ended up at the Cleveland Animal Protective League, another dozen went to the Toledo Area Humane Society, and more still found their way to the Cincinnati SPCA.

None of the rescued animals, however, stayed in Columbus.

Sharon Harvey of the Cleveland APL says it’s important to note that these are not pets that were separated from their owners due to Irma, but were actually already in shelters in Florida.

“Those shelters were looking to evacuate the animals that were already there, so they could make space to bring in animals that were going to be displaced by the storm,” Harvey says. “These are not animals that had owners looking for them.”

The shelters wanted to make room for animals that needed to be taken in after the storm, and hopefully reunite them with their owners.

The Humane Society of the United States, which arranged the rescues, says animals flown into Ohio will be dispersed through Indiana and Kentucky as well.

Toledo took in another 32 dogs and 28 cats from a shelter in Bradenton, Fla., and officials say some of their animals already found homes. The Toledo Blade reports that many adult dogs went home with foster families Sunday evening after the group put out a call to volunteers.

“Certainly the weather is going to be a little bit different here for them, but I think the animals adapt pretty well,” Harvey says. “For the cats, we recommend indoor homes and same for the dogs. We were just doing some double-checking of things and making sure everybody was spayed and neutered.”

The non-profit that funded the animals, Wings of Rescue, estimates about 2 million pets could be in the path of Hurricane Irma, and a number of them may need new homes after the storm is over. The company brought the shipment over the weekend to Cleveland due to what they say is the shelter’s excellent reputation.

Harvey adds that – with interest so high in storm-displaced animals – it’s also a good time to adopt a local animal that may have already been awaiting a new home.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. A graduate of Hudson High School, he received his Bachelor's from Kent State University. While a Kent student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.