Everybody’s heard the report by now about the 80 animals that were evacuated from three shelters in Florida as Hurricane Dorian was bearing down.
The shelters were relocating adoptable dogs and cats to make room for the anticipated influx of animals who would be displaced by the storm once it made landfall.
The evacuation was coordinated by the Humane Society of the United States, which said it would post photos of the animals after the rescue flight.
We got a press release in our newsroom and would have done a story if any of the animals had come to the Traverse City area. When people heard about the rescue they were excited, including me, even though I already have a dog and a cat — both of which were adopted from shelters.
As it turned out, Cherryland Humane Society was full and couldn’t take any of them.
Most of our reporters were a little disappointed. It’s a story we would have fought over.
They ended up going to Lansing, where I hope they’ll all find good homes.
But I wonder why people are so quick to adopt these displaced Florida animals when there are 17 dogs and 38 cats at the Cherryland Humane Society and countless other shelters waiting for homes?
Like Finnegan, a 60-pound terrier and American Staffordshire mix. He’s just under a year old and has been at the no-kill shelter for 140 days.
Tia Thoms, behavioral specialist for Cherryland, is not sure why he hasn’t been adopted as he is very sweet, though high-energy.
Thoms suspects that animals that are hurricane victims tug at peoples’ hearts, that people feel good about adopting them.
“We just hope that our babies don’t get dismissed because of it,” she said.
More than 6.5 million lost, abandoned or unwanted dogs and cats enter animal shelters every year in the United States, according to the ASPCA. About 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year, and about 1.5 million are euthanized.
The number being killed has been on the decline since 2011, partly because there are more animals being adopted, the ASPCA says. Cherryland would have been happy to take in the Florida animals, Thoms said, but in addition to the dogs and cats on the adoption floor, there are more in the animal control wing that are coming available soon. And there are three lucky dogs that have been spoken for and are waiting to be picked up by their new families.
Thoms said Cherryland loves to help when it can, but also want to take care of their own strays and surrendered animals.
“We want to focus on them first,” she said. “We do really want to get those local babies homes, too.”
So if you want to be a hero, head to Cherryland and show some love for Finnegan or for any other animal that tugs at your heart.
They will sure love you for it.