Hurricane Dorian has been heavy on the minds of many Floridians in the last week. While Florida was spared from the worst of the hurricane, people were preparing for what could have been catastrophic.
That meant stocking up on supplies for the whole family, including pets. For one Florida animal shelter, that preparation included finding homes for its more than 250 animals to get them out of harm’s way.
The Jacksonville Humane Society put out calls for “Storm Troopers” on August 31. These volunteers graciously take in pets during severe weather. That way, the animals don’t have to ride out the dangerous conditions in the shelters. It’s much more comforting for the animals to be with people inside a warm home.
It also gives families the opportunity to get to know an animal they might like to adopt.
The shelter’s call for help was a wild success. Volunteers opened their homes, and all the animals found places to ride out the storm within three days. With the majority of the animals housed, the staff at JHS was able to focus their attention on animals with special medical needs.
Hurricane Dorian has been threatening the East Coast of the United States for the better part of a week. As the storm approached, those in vulnerable areas had to do their best to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.
Floridians were on high alert, preparing for the potential of a Category 5 storm. As families prepared supplies, animal shelters had to figure out what to do with all of their adoptable animals to keep them safe.
The Jacksonville Humane Society was one of the animal shelters that reached out to the community for help. The shelter took to its social media accounts to look for “Storm Troopers.” “We are currently seeking Storm Trooper foster families to care for our pets until at least Friday, September 6,” JHS wrote.
JHS set up two different pickup time periods before the storm for volunteers to come out. “Our team will help you choose a pet that will be a good fit for your home,” the post explained. “We will provide Storm Trooper fosters with food, leashes, and collars.”
Volunteers showed up in masses, eager to give these adoptable animals a place to ride out the storm. By getting these animals out of the shelter, JHS staff would be able to focus their attention on animals with special medical needs throughout the storm.
The animals looked thrilled to be going home with their Storm Troopers, if only for a little while. Judging by all these happy faces, some of these animals might end up with forever homes as a result of the emergency situation.
In just three days, JHS managed to get all the animals into temporary housing ahead of the hurricane.
“Your response to our call for help was tremendous, and we can’t thank everyone enough for their generosity and support. We feel so incredibly lucky to be a part of such a kind, compassionate community 🧡,” JHS wrote along with a photo of empty kennels.
JHS closed down for the storm on Tuesday at 3 p.m. It remained closed through September 4, with plans to reopen the next day. Meanwhile, the animals enjoyed their storm foster homes and had some pretty awesome adventures.
The animals seemed happy, healthy, and well-cuddled through the storms. The Storm Troopers seemed to be having a blast keeping the animals happy and safe. It seems like some beautiful bonds were built.
As news of the Storm Troopers initiative spread, people fell in love with the idea. People commended the shelter for its responsibility in getting these animals to safety. They also liked that the creative idea could help the animals secure forever homes.
This isn’t the first time this shelter has turned to Storm Troopers in its time of need. It seems the program has been in place since at least 2016 and is turned to any time there’s a serious weather event threatening the area.
Despite previous successes, JHS staff were still shocked at the outcome. “It just blows us away,” CEO Denise Deisler told CNN. “These are people who may have to evacuate themselves, and they’re taking a pet with them.”
The openings at the shelter from the animals being temporarily fostered also help give the JHS staff the flexibility to take in any displaced or injured animals during these weather events. This is crucial for animals who are strays or get left behind by their owners.
The idea of fostering animals out to Storm Troopers is one that more shelters can consider employing in times of need. It’s a great help to the hardworking staff, a huge comfort to the wary animals, and a good way to give back to the community.