Glynn County Animal Control saw a significant uptick in requests for assistance during the prolonged and torrential rainstorm earlier this week.
Animal Control officers and neighbors rescued 12 dogs alone from Tuesday night’s flooding, said Animal Control Manager Tiffani Hill.
“There was a family friend who was able to take some of the dogs … The rest went to the Animal Control shelter,” Hill said.
It took some effort to even reach the house that was located in the middle of the city without getting stranded in one of the lakes that sprung up around the city overnight. The rescue involved prayers the vehicles would get through without stalling and wading, Hill said.
“We had to be creative on how to get to the location because the streets were flooded,” Hill said.
The matter isn’t over. Hill alleged the owner of the property was keeping well over the maximum number of pets allowed at a residence and running an unlicensed dog boarding kennel.
“In the city, there’s a maximum of four pets,” Hill said.
Unfortunately, not all pets were lucky. Animal Ccontrol received reports Wednesday of several dogs drowning in the rising waters.
Hill could not speak to the conditions in which the dogs were kept or why they weren’t able to escape the flooding.
“There, unfortunately, aren’t charges that can be brought because we wouldn’t be able to show intent and because it’s not illegal to have your pets living in the backyard,” Hill said.
Glynn County has laws requiring that pets be able to reach food and water and escape the elements, but Hill said she couldn’t speculate as to what happened in Wednesday’s scenario.
“It’s a tragic situation, but unfortunately the way it happened there’s not any punitive actions that can be taken,” she said.
Ideally, pets should be allowed to live indoors “like part of the family,” Hill said, but she understands many responsible pet owners can’t due to renter restrictions or lease agreements. It’s why she asks everyone to always plan for the worst-case outcome.
“We need to pay attention to the weather and understand that even if your property hasn’t flooded in the past, there’s always a possibility a storm could come through like the one this week,” Hill said. “If somebody is aware that their property could flood and intentionally left their pets in the backyard, that could bring cruelty charges against them on the most severe side. On the less severe side would be neglect.
“Plan for the worst, but hope for the best. Take a look at your property, think of the worst that could happen and plan for that.”
Part of planning for the worst is for owners to make sure they can be reunited with their pets quickly. To help, Animal Control offers free microchip implants which can be used to identify a pet’s owner even without a collar.
The shelter on U.S. 17 is open Monday through Saturday noon-5 p.m.
The county also is holding its first free spay and neuter clinic in downtown Brunswick today. Surgeries are by appointment only and completely booked up, but anyone can visit the clinic at 1327 Union St. from 3-5 p.m. today to get a microchip for their dog or cat.
Dogs must be on a leash and cats in carriers, Hill said.
More free clinics are coming, she said, but the dates are not final.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact the shelter at 912-554-7500.
Qualifying for the free spay/neuter surgery requires proof of residency in the 31520 zip code and proof of household income below 400 percent of the federal poverty guideline.
For a household of one, the cutoff would be $51,040; for a household of two, $68,960; three, $86,880; four, $104,800. The amount increases by roughly $16,000 for each additional household member.