Animals evacuated from Glynn County returned this week to the Glynn County Animal Control shelter, Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia shelter and will likely be returning next week to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Twenty-nine educational animals and patients, including Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead and green sea turtles, gopher tortoises and other reptiles — along with 50 diamondback terrapin sea turtles — were evacuated to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Thom Benson, a spokesman for the aquarium, said the current plan is to get all the sea turtles’ tanks up and running over the weekend and have the turtles back in them by next week.
Glynn County Animal Control and the Humane Society worked closely together to get all animals evacuated on Sept. 6 and 7 to a number of locations.
All of the Humane Society’s animals, and some of animal control’s, were either taken in by fosters or taken to the Okefenokee Fairgrounds in Waycross.
“They did a tremendous job out there. They got them out to and back with no problem,” said John Powell, Glynn County community services director and interim police chief.
Of the 61 animals that made the trip to Waycross, 59 came back. Julie Holmes-Taylor, the director of animal control, said one cat escaped and one dog they took with them was returned to its owner while in Waycross.
The Humane Society brought back more animals than they left with. A cat had kittens at the fairgrounds, which were quickly fostered upon return.
Around 90 animals up for adoption at animal control’s shelter were sent to Gwinnett County and to the McKamey Animal Center, also located in Chattanooga.
They were put up for adoption there and will likely not be coming back to Glynn County. More than half of the evacuated animals will be put up for adoption in the shelters to which they were taken. They will not return to Glynn County.
The two groups brought their animals back on separate days: animal control on Wednesday and the Human Society on Thursday.
“Everyone made it back safe and sound (Thursday). We worked with animal control and they worked with us,” said Virginia Schlegel, Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia executive director.
Animal control and the Humane Society are working on cleaning up from Hurricane Irma. The Humane Society will not be open until Tuesday, but animal control will begin accepting strays Saturday.
“We encourage anyone that if they have a stray, or if they’re holding on to them and can’t find the owner, we will be here to take them in,” Holmes-Taylor said.
The shelter was in pretty good shape and there were no structural issues, she added.
Schegel said the evacuation may have been good for some of the dogs. Some of the more-shy ones were able to be socialized while being confined in the temporary shelter. Animal control’s dogs were also walked more often than normal as a result.
While out at the fairgrounds, both Holmes-Taylor and Schlegel said the two organizations worked closely together, taking care of all animals almost as one group.
As the Glynn County employee shelter in Waycross only had two showers, members of the Humane Society who rented hotel rooms opened them so animal control employees could shower there. A smoker brought by a Humane Society volunteer was used to smoke turkey and pork for both the organizations.
“It was very communal,” Holmes-Taylor said. “We are very grateful to have that partnership with them.”