Hurricane Heroes: SDHS Rescue Teams

After three weeks of responding to hurricanes, I’m happy to tell you our first-responder teams are now headed home to San Diego. As our friend, you most likely already know we had our Special Response Teams and Animal Rescue Reserve teams on the ground in both Texas and Florida to help rescue and shelter animals stranded by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. You know we’re committed to helping animals both near and far which is why we deployed five teams over the past three weeks to help these devastated communities.

Our teams were honored to serve as first-responders and assist with caring for the influx of animals in Texas and Florida shelters. In addition to our Technical Rescue Team – which is professionally trained in swift water rescue for these types of disasters – our sheltering teams provided care to dogs, cats, horses, pigs and even cows displaced by these horrific storms. Wild animals were also deeply affected and our teams helped squirrels, opossums and other wildlife. Our teams worked tirelessly, but never hesitated to respond to the plea for help whether the need was reuniting lost pets with their owners or providing comfort to animals. Your commitment to San Diego Humane Society helped make it possible for us to respond.

Working alongside other animal welfare colleagues from organizations in Oregon, to Georgia, to Missouri, to North Carolina, to Texas and Florida reminded me of the importance of coming together during times of such devastation – not just for animals in need but for people as well. Some of our team members were dedicated to helping pets housed next to the human evacuee shelter in Florida. These pets belonged to people who were in the hospital or displaced from their home with nowhere to go. Our team was there to care for their pets so these owners would have the comfort of their pets during such a difficult time. Imagine losing your home and being worried about being able to keep your pet. I’m so glad our teams could provide that peace of mind to these hurricane victims.

We also helped here at home by transporting in more than 85 animals from Louisiana from Hurricane Harvey hit, and another 175 from Naples from Hurricane Irma. These animals were already available for adoption at local shelters so in order to make room for evacuee’s lost animals, we opened our shelter doors here in San Diego. Thanks to collaboration with Wings of Rescue and The Humane Society of the United States, these animals flew across the country to start new lives in California. We will have them available for adoption soon so please stay tuned to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels for the announcement.

We can all use a heartwarming story at times like this. So watch this video of a litter of kittens that were found amidst the storm. Jackie Noble, our Kitten Nursery Supervisor, nursed the eight kittens back to health, from a traveling RV in the aftermath of a devastating storm. They’re adorable (and safe)!

You’re an enormous part of these collaborative efforts. Your support during the tragedy of these hurricanes has been tremendous, making you a critical part of our rescue team.

Thank you for caring and helping those in need,


Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA
President and CEO
San Diego Humane Society