The dog owners who abandoned their dogs to fend for themselves during Hurricane Irma could be prosecuted. Nearly 50 dogs were chained to trees or cars; as their families evacuated their homes during the hurricane that hit Florida.
Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control was inundated with calls telling them that evacuating dog owners had left their dogs chained up, WPTV reports. Animal Control officers are said to have rescued 49 dogs over the past two days alone. They said dogs were not only chained, but some were left in pens or inside their homes.
Director of Animal Care Diane Suave told WPTV, “They are left in a yard; in a pen they cannot escape from or tethered to trees or poles.”
Suave also added, “There is absolutely no excuse for doing that.” News crews were on hand as Animal Control saved several dogs chained up and in high water.
It is illegal in that Florida County to leave a dog chained up without an owner present. Given the hurricane, it’s considered felony animal abuse to leave dogs behind and state prosecutors have said they will track down neglectful owners and prosecute.
“We will find you, and we will prosecute you,” said Dave Aronberg; the state prosecutor for Palm Beach County in Florida.
Meanwhile the Palm Beach animal shelter is quickly becoming overcrowded and they need help emptying the shelter.
They said that in addition to the dogs they have rescued and brought back to the shelter; 42 dogs have also been surrendered by their owners in one day; after people said they could not take them as they evacuated.
The shelter is asking dog owners to slow down and consider their actions. They are also asking for help with the 100 plus dogs they have at the shelter who need adoption or fostering.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has rescued up to 600 animals in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in the aftermath of Irma.
They says although rescue organizations are ready to assist; the “first and best line of defence for a pet will always be a well-prepared owner.”