The Slatest

Dozens of Dogs Left Tied Up in Florida as Hurricane Irma Approached

Having trouble finding a hotel room, members of the Watson family, of St. Petersburg, debates a passing motorist’s offer to take in their dogs as they wait on the side of the road and weigh their options while attempting to evacuate the area ahead of, Hurricane Irma on September 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.

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Authorities in south Florida rushed to rescue as many animals as possible ahead of Hurricane Irma’s arrival. In Palm Beach County, animal control officers rescued 49 dogs and two cats that weren’t just left inside a house, but rather tied up or somehow restrained so they would have no way of even attempting to escape if there is flooding. “They are left in a yard, in a pen they cannot escape from or tethered to trees or poles,” Palm Beach County Director of Animal Care Diane Suave said. She said that this type of abandonment is the worst thing that pet owners can do. “There is absolutely no excuse for doing that.”

Authorities say they will pursue felony animal cruelty charges against anyone if they manage to gather enough evidence, although identifying pet owners, particularly in the middle of a disaster, can be difficult. “This is a prime example of animal cruelty,” State Attorney Dave Aronberg said. “We will find you, and we will prosecute you.” For now, authorities are asking people to consider sheltering any animals they see left outside during the storm.