There's a rule here that prohibits soliciting donations, but there's no rule prohibiting asking for transport/logistics help AFAIK
, so Carolina rescuers, please tell us what help you expect to need logistically in the coming weeks.
If you're sitting somewhere waiting to get back home, now's the time to plan -- that "bored" time can be planning time! If you can identify the operations contact for the rescue that you work with so that 501(c)(3) breed rescues can be in touch with their bona fides (like vet references and proof of legitimacy), we might be able to get you some help brainstorm some transports once things open up.
When South Louisiana flooded in 2016, with over 100,000 homes inundated, some of our rescues foster homes and adopters were under water. It was chaos for a while, finding people and figuring out who was safe. Worse, the know-nothing out-of-area FB network wannabes (who've never done diddly squat for dogs in real life) were screwing up the flow of dogs out of flooded areas into safe areas. During the bleak time, the only breed rescue that reached out to us to offer to fly dogs out was up in Alaska (love you, Arctic GSR!), and just knowing that they were thinking of us and wanted
to help really meant a lot to us.
So here are some hard lessons learned:
1. Local storm dogs MUST stay sheltered in their home area (ideally, home county) for at least 90 days. DO NOT TRANSPORT THESE DOGS!
Local shelters will resist holding dogs for this long because of the resources strain -- make them find a way and be loud about it (even if it means sheltering them in prisons or at fairgrounds). Transporting too soon means that people who already lost homes will have no hope of regaining the only thing they might have left in the world -- a beloved pet. They can't look for them quickly when they're in shelters, without cars (because theirs flooded), without public transit (because there isn't going to be any for a while), and without internet access (because phones were lost in the water).
2. But DO try to transport out the ones that were adoptable (i.e., without owners) BEFORE the storm hit.
They really need to be moved out of state to focus resources on storm dogs. For breed rescues, it's very hard to let go of dogs you've had for months sometimes, but if you can send them other good breed rescues, you can focus on responding to the slow-moving crisis that will be with you for many, many months. (Just be very clear in your social media messaging that these transports are dogs that were adoptable long before the storm hit, so that people stuck in shelters don't freak out on you.)
3. Prepare for returns unlike any you've ever known.
Adopters whom you haven't heard from for years will suddenly need to return your alumni, possibly in large numbers. People who lost homes are going to be in hotels and FEMA trailers for many, many months (maybe a year or more). Sometimes they're staying with family who won't let them keep the dog. You'll also likely be getting "divorce returns" as sometimes families can't survive this stress either -- half the people I know seem to have had marriages end after the 2016 flood! Try to be proactive and check in with your adopters systematically -- let them hear from you and know that you care, once you're back up and running. Sometimes they may just need dog food and vet care for a bit until they get back on their feet and into permanent housing. Even if you don't normally do that, consider doing it to keep the dog with its adopter. You're probably going to lose some of your foster homes to the flood water -- so all of the returns will happen at a time when you're struggling to keep up. Adoption rates will crash too, for a good long while, as people focus on rebuilding and fighting through the red tape with FEMA/flood insurance/SBA. We still haven't returned to our pre-2016 intake/adoption rates, as the tail from this kind of disaster is very, very long!
4. Lepto, lepto, lepto.
Lepto sometimes explodes in warm weather after floods. If you don't normally vaccinate for it, consider it for at least the next year. We boostered all our dogs early that were more than 6 months out from their last lepto vax. Just one case of kidney failure will devastate a rescue's resources. Teach your fosters the early symptoms of lepto too -- it's treatable with generic abx if you catch it early, but most people miss the signs.
All dogs that come out of that flood water are at risk of long-term skin problems. Wash them with Dawn (to get the grease off), and then an antimicrobial shampoo (like chlorhex 4% shampoo) as fast as you can, and repeat the antimicrobial baths weekly for a while. We saw long-term skin problems en masse in the 2016 flood dogs (and some are still fighting them). That water is a witch's brew of petrochemicals (motor oil, gasoline), ag pollutants (livestock waste, fertilizer, weed killer), infectious microbes, and more. We also saw some abx-resistant E. coli come out of that water in a dog, so be careful (wear gloves when bathing dogs, and wash your own self carefully too).