The Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia felt it was “paying it forward” Tuesday when it took in 17 dogs and 15 cats from the Myrtle Beach Humane Society.
Virginia Schlegel, executive director of the Coastal Georgia Humane Society, said its South Carolina counterpart was looking for places to take its animals to get them out of the path of Hurricane Florence.
Humane Society staff and volunteers rented a vehicle to go with the one it already has and took off to Myrtle Beach at 4 a.m. Tuesday. They came back with the load of pets at around 5 p.m. that evening.
Schlegel said Myrtle Beach’s situation is a tough one to be in. The Humane Society got help from Glynn County Animal Control and McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., before Hurricane Irma hit last year.
“They were literally in tears, they were so happy to finally get some help,” Schlegel said. “I know because I felt the same way when someone came to get our animals. It is a very desperate feeling when you’ve got all those animals lives in your hands and you’re responsible for their safety. It can be overwhelming.”
The “refugee” pets will be available for adoption in one to two weeks, said Sharon Mathews, animal care specialist for the Humane Society.
Schlegel said she doesn’t think the Humane Society will have a problem getting the animals adopted, so they may not take any of them back to Myrtle Beach.
“I feel like we’ll be able to adopt out all the animals they sent to us. They’re all very healthy, I don’t think we’ll have to take any of them back,” Schlegel said. “I’m just so happy that we were able to help them. It happened to us last year, and I’m just glad we were able to pay it forward.”
Lynn Heth, Humane Society shelter director, said they were so thankful for all the help they’d gotten during Hurricane Irma that they wanted to help other shelters out. The Coastal Georgia Humane Society currently has around 65 dogs and 76 cats total, though some are in foster homes, she said.
“Everyone has reached out a helping hand, so we decided we’d give back,” Heth said.
The Golden Isles isn’t entirely out of Florence’s path. Even so, Schlegel said the Human Society is considering riding out the storm. Animals were evacuated from the society’s shelter to a pet shelter maintained by the county at the Waycross Fairgrounds before Hurricanes Irma and Matthew.
“We evacuated to Waycross for both hurricanes, but our building can probably handle that, so we’re going to decide that as time goes on,” Schlegel said.