8/29: For an update on the dog now dubbed “Irene”, who is actually named “Flint”, please click here.
Yesterday, a firestorm occured on the internet during Hurricane Irene as news broke of a dog in Greenville, North Carolina, who appears to be a white Siberian Husky mix with blue eyes, that was left abandoned in a small outdoor chain link kennel while the rest of his human family evacuated the home. The picture that sparked a furious rage in animal lovers depicted him seated atop an igloo dog house in the middle of the hurricane’s windy and rainy elements, with a tree, or large branch that had already collapsed onto the fencing of his kennel, and flooded water is clearly visible on the ground near him.
City of Greenville’s initial PR statement on their Facebook page regarding the issue was, to put it lightly, appalling.
“If someone tells you about a dog who is being abused by being in the rain and Greenville is doing nothing about it, please let them know that animal control has checked on them three times. The dog is fine. It has food, water, and a dry dog house. He just chooses to sleep on top of the dog house.”
Look at that picture: the body language, the posture, the conditions of her environment. This was not a dog sleeping comfortably on her dog house. This was a dog who was scared, wet, and trapped in a confined area during a hurricane that humans were being told to evacuate from. Wind had been bringing down trees all over North Carolina, including the city of Greenville (their Facebook page even reports on it multiple times). Yet this dog was left to sit there in these elements and conditions for hours, and they said she was “fine”.
According to the City of Greenville, it took five visits from Animal Control and Police before they felt justified in removing the dog from the property and bringing him to the safety of a shelter. FIVE VISITS. Needless to say, the dog should never have been abandoned outdoors in this weather in the first place, but one visit to that home should have been enough to warrant his rescue. Flash flooding could have drowned him, or trees could have toppled on him at any time; he was definitely not “fine”. He was in danger.
In Los Angeles, we don’t have hurricanes or tropical storms like East Coasters do, but we do experience rainstorms and thunderstorms that cause flash floods, the occasional funnel cloud, high wind from the Santa Ana’s, and of course during summer, extreme heat. These are elements that dogs, regardless of breed, should never be left out in. As I’ve always said, Siberian Huskies may be built to withstand below zero temperatures in the snowy north, but this doesn’t mean that we should leave them to their devices in such conditions. Dogs are our pets, our family. They don’t choose to be left outside, helpless, in bad weather or natural disasters. They depend on us to provide them with food, water and shelter for their welfare and safety. No dog should be subjected to withstand rainstorms or 100 degree heat, and certainly not subjected to scary thunderstorms, flash flooding or wind that can topple trees and crush them without warning.
The Greenville dog is now safe in a shelter, but he experienced a lot before his rescue. Let this be a lesson for all of us, to prevent a similiar situation from happening to other pets in future disasters: Have a plan for when weather emergencies or natural disasters occur. Prepare a list of places you can take pets with you, or where you can drop them off until returning home, that will keep them safe and out of harm. Emergency preparedness can save lives, yours and your pets. And it goes without saying, laws need to be changed in some areas to prevent animals from suffering in these situations. It’s against the law here to keep your dog inside a car in hot weather (some authorities will even break the windows out to rescue the dog!), so why should a dog be allowed to stay outdoors in a hurricane in North Carolina?
“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, until the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” ~ Author Unknown
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