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Pets Displaced By Sandy Take Refuge In Rancho Santa Fe

A shelter dog at the Helen Woodward Animal Center.
Helen Woodward Animal Center
A shelter dog at the Helen Woodward Animal Center.

About 60 shelter dogs and cats that were displaced by Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast were being cared for at a Rancho Santa Fe animal center today.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center, the Sea World Rescue Team and Southwest Airlines teamed up to fly the shelter pets from New Jersey to San Diego on Saturday, according to center officials.

They were flown to Lindbergh Field on a donated charter, chaperoned by rescue staff and later taken to the center, in Rancho Santa Fe. Center officials said the animals would eventually be placed up for adoption but first, they were receiving medical treatments, vaccinations and being spayed or neutered.


Some could be ready for adoption as early as Wednesday, the center's Jessica Gercke said.

"These are the silent victims,'' HWAC President Mike Arms said. "There are shelters that have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy, without electricity, without supplies. Despite this, the goodhearted rescue facilitators have taken in an overwhelming number of pets displaced by the hurricane and waiting to be returned to their owners.''

However, the animals that inhabited the shelters before the storm were facing euthanasia because of the lack of space, Arms said. He added his center was contacted by shelters asking for help.

Not only were the East Coast facilities overcrowded, but adoptions have trickled to a stop in the hurricane's aftermath, according to the center.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center also assisted with the transportation and placement of animals following Hurricane Katrina.


The rescue was made possible by Southwest Airlines, whose crew members donated their time, and BP, which donated fuel for the cross-country flight.

Sea World veterinarians and technicians donated their time and will transport the pets to the shelter in Rancho San Diego, northeast of Del Mar.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center is seeking donations at to fund care for the animals until they are adopted.