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Floridians Rescue Animals During And In The Wake Of Hurricane Ian

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It is very easy to contemplate your actions in critical situations. The idealized version of events, where you can look at everything with a clear mind and consider all the choices available to make the best moves possible for both your own and another’s benefit, pales in comparison to real life.

When your heart is pounding and danger is imminent, you don’t have time to ponder—you must act. One can’t judge others for their actions in difficult situations, yet we can applaud the heroism that some display when it comes to protecting those smaller and weaker than them.

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Hurricane Ian is being called the second-deadliest storm to hit the US in the 21st century. The magnitude of the tragedy cannot be understated. Yet today, we will honor and take notice of some of the people who went out of their way, despite the danger, to save animals stuck in the storm or its aftermath.

More info: Cat Rescue | Dog Rescue | Humane Society Naples

The second-deadliest storm to hit the US in the 21st century, Hurricane Ian was no match for those willing to sacrifice themselves for an animal in distress

Image credits: MeganScavo

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The first man we will look at is 29-year-old Mike Ross, of Bonita Springs, who bravely weathered the rising flood waters in order to rescue a terrified-looking cat. He’d gone to his parent’s place to take shelter from the hurricane as his house was “10 feet underwater.” He told The Washington Post that his parents had a “fortress” meant to withstand storms.

He looked out the window and saw an orange and white feline seeking refuge from the currents atop a mounted air conditioning unit. “The storm surge had rushed up quite a bit at that point,” Mike said. Regardless, he rushed outside to help the stranded kitty.

29-year-old Mike Ross, of Bonita Springs, was sheltering in his parents’ home when he saw an orange cat hiding from the storm surge atop a mounted AC unit

Image credits: MeganScavo

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The rescue mission occurred right before the Category 4 storm made landfall on September 28. Mike’s mom, Marybeth Ross, captured the moment on camera, showing Mike bravely wading through the rapidly flowing, murky knee-high water until he got to the soaked feline. She can be heard saying: “Look at Michael saving the kitty. Awww.”

Climbing onto the patio, he gently reached up to take the cat into his arms. The both of them made it back safely, the cat snuggling its face close to the man’s. Mike did it all with a smile, although nature’s wrath was upon them.

Without hesitation, he went outside, bravely wading through the rapidly flowing, murky knee-high water until he got to the soaked feline

His girlfriend, Megan Scavo, later shared the video on Twitter, the caption reading: “My boyfriend saving a cat from flood waters near Bonita Beach.” His compassion and bravery led to lots of congratulations, as well as people sharing their own rescue cats. One said: “Hurricane cats are an old Florida tradition. We picked ours up a couple years ago during Irma. Cannot imagine this house without the Tripod.”

The video has since garnered 3.8M views and more than 200k likes, with one Twitter user saying: “I’m sorry, Megan, but he is everyone’s boyfriend now. I don’t make the rules.”

With the kitty secure in his arms, he made his way back home, a big smile on his face. They named the cat Ian and will keep it unless its owner comes back

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Image credits: MeganScavo

Although he had grown up in Florida and seen his fair share of intense weather, he said that this particular storm was “absolutely terrible” compared to the rest. He and his family plan on keeping the cat if they fail to find its rightful owner.

They started a GoFundMe page to raise money to restore their home and others’ houses, with half of the proceeds going to the Humane Society Naples

Image credits: MeganScavo

Megan posted an update to the post, saying that they’re currently calling their “miracle cat” Ian, as a homage to the horrid hurricane.

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She also linked to a GoFundMe page to raise money to restore their home and others’ houses that were damaged in the storm. Half of the proceeds would go toward the Humane Society Naples to help other animals impacted by the crisis.

Another man was spotted risking his life to save a dog as the hurricane descended. Sadly, the man’s name is unknown at the moment

Image credits: BrianEntin

Another man was spotted risking his life to save a dog as the hurricane descended. Sadly, the name of the man is not known, but the video posted on Twitter showed him wading through waist-deep harbor water in Fort Myers, carrying the pup in his arms.

After reaching the edge of the harbor, he was able to put the dog down, eagerly running towards a different man, named Brian Entin, Senior National Correspondent at NewsNation. He later tweeted that the man went back to save a cat as well. In a later update, Brian can be seen with the pup, the caption reading, “She’s doing well today!”

The video posted on Twitter showed him wading through waist-deep harbor water in Fort Myers, carrying the pup in his arms

Image credits: BrianEntin

Once they made it to the edge of the harbor, he put the dog down, climbed up, and ran toward another man, named Brian Entin

Image credits: BrianEntin

The video has since garnered 1.8M views and over 54k likes, with many praising the man’s bravery. “Wow, that was extremely dangerous. You can see that the black sailboat is not even tied down,” one person said. Another added: “That dog is so happy to be alive!”

Once the danger subsided, rescue operations could take place. There have been numerous videos and pictures posted of rescue workers doing their best for both people and animals caught in the carnage.

Brian later tweeted that the man went back to save a cat as well. The pup seems to be doing well, too

Image credits: BrianEntin

Capt. Greg Hubbard of Orange County Fire Rescue in Orlando led a special operations team door to door in flooded neighborhoods that got caught in flash flooding unseen before. In the Rio Pinar neighborhood, about 8 miles east of downtown Orlando, people were taken by surprise because the area wasn’t considered a flood zone.

Nearly every house had pets—often at least two dogs. One family of four had seven cats. “There were at least three or four dozen animals that we rescued out of that neighborhood alone,” he told TODAY. Although the people often seemed distressed or panicked, the animals were calm and appreciative.

After the hurricane passed by, rescue efforts were able to move forward, helping those stuck in the debris, both human and animal

Image credits: hsnaples

“I almost feel like the dogs had a calming effect on the people and the rescuers,” he said. One woman told Hubbard, “Danger’s coming out.” He asked—with some unease—“Who’s Danger?” Danger turned out to be a senior, overweight dog who posed absolutely no threat. “I got a chuckle out of that: the dog’s name is Danger but he was anything but dangerous,” Hubbard said.

The captain commended some of the people’s good spirits in the face of disaster. “You’d walk into their house and it’s just absolute devastation. Raw sewage inside the house, really dirty water. All of their worldly possessions just destroyed,” he said. “But they were in really good spirits. Some of the couples even said, ‘We made it out, our animals made it out. We can replace everything else.’”

The nonprofit Humane Society Naples has been flying animals from shelters to partner organizations to make room to take in those displaced by the storm

Image credits: hsnaples

Meanwhile, staff and volunteers at many rescue organizations in Florida have been working together to help evacuate shelter pets from devastated areas. The nonprofit Humane Society Naples loaded 51 cats and 15 dogs on a plane flown by the nonprofit Wings of Rescue and funded by Petco Love to Brandywine Valley SPCA in Delaware on Monday, September 3.

“What we’ve seen and experienced here in Southwest Florida in the last few days is beyond words. We have heartbreaking devastation and destruction but at the same time, an amazing community has come together to get things done for our animal friends who are in desperate need,” Sarah Baeckler, CEO of Humane Society Naples, told TODAY.

Image credits: hsnaples

“I am beyond grateful to our friends at Petco Love and Brandywine Valley SPCA for jumping at the chance to help us at our darkest hour, and to Jacksonville Humane Society for connecting us all through their Florida Leaders in Lifesaving program. Together we will save hundreds of lives.”

Although it is difficult to imagine leaving a pet behind in such circumstances, sometimes there is no other choice. Many emergency shelters and even some hotels/hostels won’t allow pets in the vicinity, and some people don’t have cars or a means of transportation to take their pets along with them. Other times, disaster strikes out of nowhere and you have mere minutes to escape, in which you will have to make a heartbreaking sacrifice.

Image credits: hsnaples

Experts emphasize that successfully evacuating with your pets depends on the actions you take well before an emergency. Jason Cohen, a dog trainer based in New York City, asks owners to ensure their pets are wearing collars with clear, current identification and contact information. A GPS tag may also come in handy. You’ll also need a sturdy leash and a pet carrier or crate labeled with your contact information for added security if a collar accidentally comes off.

Then assemble a disaster kit for your pets. It should include enough non-perishable food and water to last at least a week, a first-aid kit, a couple of weeks’ supply of medications if the pet needs them, a printed document or USB stick with medical records stored inside a waterproof box or sleeve, a toy or two for idle hours, hygiene supplies such as poop bags or a litter box, and a current picture of you and your pet, in case you later need to prove ownership or reclaim it.

Experts state that successfully evacuating with your pets depends on the actions you take before an emergency; preparation is key to avoiding tragedy

Image credits: peta

If you must leave your pets behind, take appropriate actions. Leave out plenty of food and fresh water and, most importantly, do not restrain your pet. Boost awareness of your pet’s location by notifying local law enforcement, animal control officials, and animal shelters. If you can, leave a note on the window or door of your home, indicating that the pet is inside for rescuers.

In the face of danger and devastation, it is truly incredible to see the best of humanity come forth in acts of undivided kindness

Image credits: MeganScavo

Now a period of reconstruction will begin. It may take some time, but with a strong community, everything is possible. Hopefully, we won’t see a hurricane of this magnitude hit again any time soon, yet that may be wishful thinking.

Thankfully, there are heroes among us, willing to do it all to save a life, and we are grateful for them.

Many people have expressed their admiration for these heroes, even sharing their own rescue pets. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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