South Carolina Floods: Good and Bad Human Behavior in Rescuing Cats and Dogs

The devastating flooding in South Carolina from Hurricane Joaquin has left more than a dozen people dead and thousands displaced from Columbia to Charleston. In the midst of this disaster, the people of South Carolina have banded together to provide much-needed water and supplies to the thousands whose drinking water has been compromised in the Columbia area.

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Dorchester SPCA flooded during Hurricane Joaquin
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Being only two counties away from Columbia, I’ve been keeping up with animal rescue. I’ve been worried not only about friends in the Midlands and Low Country, but about the dogs and cats left to survive on their own. Thousands of residents were evacuated and the threat is far from over. Dams are breaking, making a dangerous situation worse. More people in the path of the flood waters may face evacuation this week.

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Flooding from heavy rain swamps the intersection of Huger Street and King Street in Charleston. Matthew Fortner/The Post and Courier

In my online searches on how the dogs and cats are faring in my state, I came across three good stories that show both the good and bad in people. I’m providing the link at the bottom for those of you who want more information.

Family turned away from Columbia hotel because they had pets

Last weekend J and Dawn Britt and their three children were forced to leave their Columbia home due to flooding. The family took their two dogs and one cat, all in carriers, and made their way to the Columbia Marriott Hotel, where they were told by management they couldn’t stay because of the no-pet policy the hotel has in place. The Britt family was forced to go back out into the flooded streets, the same streets where a young woman from Greenville drowned after leaving a Columbia hospital. The terrified family eventually found shelter at Sheraton Columbia Downtown.

Columbia Marriott has since issued an apology and has lifted their pet restrictions for the week.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all impacted by the flooding that has resulted from the recent severe weather. As such, we have modified our no-pet policy and prepared our team to prepare for your family, including pets, for the next 7 days. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused guests looking for pet permissible accommodations prior to this change.”

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The Columbia Marriott Facebook page has been slammed with bad reviews, but a few have praised them for sticking to the policy. Personally, I don’t understand how a manager could send a family back out knowing they could die.

Rescuers who stepped up to save dogs from flooded SC shelter had vehicles towed

The Dorchester SPCA, also known as Frances R.Willis SPCA saw major flooding at their Summerville shelter. They sent out a plea on their Facebook page asking people to come to the shelter and rescue the dogs who were standing in flood water. The community acted quickly, with many having to park their vehicles at a nearby Shell service station and wade to the facility. A total of 75 dogs (and possibly a few cats) were saved by the Good Samaritans.

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These heroic animal rescuers returned to the Shell station only to find their vehicles had been ordered towed by the station owner. It’s alleged the owner knew the people who parked there were going to save the animals and would return to their cars as quickly as possible. The Dorchester County Sheriff’s Department became involved and several people have reported their vehicles towed. The towing company is also alleged to have “price gouged” meaning they charged more than the average towing price. This is illegal during a disaster. The cats were moved to another part of the shelter where they weren’t in danger from the flood.

Greenville County Animal Care Services serving as a hub for displaced shelter pets

The Greenville shelter where we did rescue until 2012 is doing their part to help the animals displaced in the Midlands. Working with the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Emergency Placement Partners, which are animal rescue agencies that work with the HSUS, dogs and cats will use the Furman Hall Road facility as a stopover on the way to other shelters. On Tuesday morning, 23 dogs left Greenville after being rescued from the Lee County shelter and taken to Atlanta Humane Society for adoption. GCACS posted on their Facebook wall Tuesday

“Greenville County Animal Care is proud to provide temporary housing and support to the displaced animals of the tragic South Carolina flooding. Starting last night and lasting as long as needed, Animal Care is working with public and private rescue groups in the Columbia and Charleston areas providing care for dogs and cats. Many of these animals will be heading off to other facilities across the Southeast, but will receive outstanding love and care in Greenville County as they begin their new journey.”

Please keep South Carolina in your thoughts

Please keep South Carolina in your thoughts, especially since there are bad people and scam artist who prey on disaster victims. There are few in this state who aren’t affected by the devastation caused by the flooding, and the danger continues. This is a tragedy that won’t end this week or next week. It will take months to restore the Midlands and Low Country to what it once was.

People are dead, families have lost everything, including their jobs from destroyed businesses. South Carolina is a strong and tight-knit community and will survive this disaster. While there are communities out there to help residents, it’s nice to know there are animal advocates doing everything possible to help displaced dogs and cats.

A Facebook group has been formed here called Helping SC Rescues Affected by the Flooding to help the victims of the South Carolina disaster; or here to join U.S. Pets Lost & Found During Natural Disasters (these groups covers the entire U.S.).

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