Mike Merrill has rescued animals from disasters and conflict zones, however as Hurricane Ian barreled down on Florida, he realized that his subsequent mission could be saving animals in his dwelling state.
Earlier this yr, Merrill coordinated with different rescue staff from France, Austria and Portugal to avoid wasting canines from battle zones in Ukraine. There he crossed the border from Poland to rescue 44 canines and 6 cats.
However he mentioned rescuing animals close to Jacksonville forward of Hurricane Ian together with his animal rescue group Florida Pressing Rescue (FUR) was uniquely troublesome.
“That is a special sort of problem right here the place we’re sort of within the path of the storm ourselves … we’re personally affected as nicely, and all of our different fosters and volunteers are affected,” he mentioned. “The excellent news is that we’re near dwelling, and the dangerous information is that we’re near dwelling.”
His purpose: To maintain dozens of canines from struggling in out of doors kennels amid the ferocious storm because it lashed his dwelling state.
Merrill is aware of that with out his assist relocating at-risk animals from shelters already near full, extra cats and canines may face euthanization amid a predictable overcrowding that hits shelters following a pure catastrophe.
WATCH:Highly effective winds and flooding in Florida as Hurricane Ian strikes onward
WATCH:Sturdy winds and heavy rains from Hurricane Ian wreak havoc on Florida
Within the case of one of many US’ worst hurricanes, Louisiana ASPCA estimates as many as 104,000 pets had been left behind throughout Hurricane Katrina in 2005, with over 15,500 animals finally rescued.
As a substitute of struggling via the storm, or worse, the animals relocated by Merrill rode out the hurricane in loving foster houses or secure shelters out of the trail of the storm.
It is a complicated operation that requires superior planning to construct out a community of shelters and foster houses prepared to assist when catastrophe strikes.
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His first foray into animal rescue efforts in catastrophe reduction got here after Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas and Louisiana in 2017, and since then, Merrill and FUR have coordinated fostering and relocation efforts associated to 9 hurricanes, together with Hurricane Ian.
“Any sort of storm, it is terrifying for these canines, a lot much less a hurricane or some kind of a significant occasion,” Merrill mentioned.