RANCHO SANTA FE — The Helen Woodward Animal Center has stepped up to help animals impacted by super storm Sandy. The center has 60 dogs and cats available for adoption from animal shelters in New Jersey and New York after East Coast shelters became over burdened after the storm.“After the hurricane hit, shelters were devastated,” Jessica Gercke, public relations manager for Helen Woodward Animal Center, said. “They had no power and no supplies.”Some shelters had to close and relocate animals in their care. Other shelters stayed open and needed to make room to temporarily house pets of storm victims.
Fellow East Coast shelters helped ease a lot of the burden.
The Helen Woodward Animal Center also reached out to help through its relationships with Delco SPCA in Pennsylvania and Sea World.
The Delco SPCA tracked down cats and dogs at high risk for euthanasia in New Jersey and New York.
Staff at SeaWorld Orlando, Fla., arranged for 60 dogs and cats to be flown out to California and volunteered to escort the animals on the plane.
The animals flew in pet carriers inside the passenger cabin of a chartered Southwest Airlines plane. Pilots and crew on the plane also volunteered their time.
SeaWorld San Diego and Helen Woodward Animal Center staff met the animals on the ground and transported them to the animal center.
“When they landed pilots were holding puppies and flight attendants were holding dogs and cats,” Gercke said. “It was a beautiful, emotional evening.”
At the animal center Helen Woodward staff evaluated the dogs and cats and took care of any medical needs, vaccinations, spaying or neutering. Some of the animals were immediately ready for adoption. Most will be available soon.
“They were in pretty good condition,” Gercke said. “Many had not been spayed or neutered. Some had the normal colds from traveling and stress.”
News of the rescued dogs and cats spurred an increased interest in pet adoption.
Didi and Wayne Olson of Rancho Bernardo were at the center Nov. 21. They said they had formerly owned a dog and were motivated to adopt when they heard the news.
Jana Basinet of Clairemont said she was looking for a companion for her Great Dane Solana. She added that she is taking her time to find a second dog that is the right fit.
“It’s important to make the right decision; a responsible decision,” she said.
Individuals who want to adopt a dog or cat from the center are required to fill out an application to ensure that they understand the responsibility of pet adoption.
Then they are given time to visit with dogs or cats they are considering for adoption. During the visit Helen Woodward staff gives detailed information on the animal’s history, temperament and needs.
All family members and household pets come along on the visit to ensure the adopted pet is a compatible fit.
“Pets are family members,” Gercke said. “Most do really good. If there’s another pet it’s important they meet one another to see if they’re a good match.”
The Helen Woodward Animal Center currently has 242 animals available for adoption. Dogs and cats rescued from super storm Sandy have signage on their cage that notes they are storm rescue animals.