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As Sandy Approaches, the Cape Wildlife Center Battens Down Hatches

Plan ahead and be safe with your pets and around wildlife during a storm

Cape Wildlife Center

Cape Wildlife Center prepares for hurricane Irene--moving boxes to shelter opossums.

Heather Fone

As Hurricane Sandy heads north, the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Mass., operated by The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals, is safeguarding the wildlife rehabilitation hospital to protect the facility and its wild patients against potential high winds, heavy rainfall and flooding during what AccuWeather is saying is an “extremely rare and dangerous storm.”

“Our team is securing the 4.5-acre campus before the storm arrives,” said Deborah Robbins Millman, director of the Cape Wildlife Center. Millman formerly operated an animal shelter in Florida and has vast experience preparing for hurricane conditions. “Our emergency management plans include readying storm shutters, ensuring our flashlights, emergency radio, backup generator and pumps are in working order, and that we have plenty of food and water on hand for humans and our animal patients.”

All wild patients, including songbirds, turtles and squirrels, will be transported from outside enclosures to our new state-of-the-art recovery ward inside the facility. Staff will ensure the safety of the wild patients during Hurricane Sandy while they rehabilitate from injuries before their return to the wild. The center has also made preparations for an anticipated spike in admissions after the storm passes, most likely to include prey species and migratory seabirds blown off course by the winds. 

Dr. Roberto Aguilar, medical director of the Cape Wildlife Center who treated animals in the wake of several Louisiana hurricanes, offers the following tips for Cape residents concerned about wildlife during the storm:

  • Do not leave your house if conditions are unsafe, even if you see an animal in distress. You will not be able to help the animal if you get hurt, too.

  • Call the Cape Wildlife Center, police or animal control officers for help with any distressed wildlife before attempting to help the animal yourself.

  • If you cannot reach authorities or the center, approach the animal cautiously and wear protective gloves. If you are able to move the animal into a dry, dark and quiet place (a cardboard or plastic box with ventilation) the animal will feel secure until you are able to take him or her to the center. Animals do not need food or water at this time, unless they are very young.

  • Don’t try giving any medicine to distressed animals. The less the animal sees or hears, the better off he or she will be.

  • Although there are not many chicks out during this time of the year, chicks found abandoned in the wild should be taken to the center as soon as possible.

In preparation for emergency response assistance that may be requested by affected communities throughout the East Coast, The HSUS is mobilizing its Animal Rescue Team and equipment.

For more tips on preparedness plans that include your pets, visit humanesociety.org/prepare. You can also follow us on Twitter @HumaneSociety for the latest information relating to the storm, including pet-friendly shelters.

To view and download video PSAs filmed by Jenna Morasca, “Survivor: Amazon” winner and spokesperson for The HSUS disaster services, click here.

*Photos of The HSUS’ storm preparations are available to media upon request.

Media Contacts: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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