Updated December 07, 2012
In addition to leaving a path of devastation all along the East Coast, Hurricane Sandy also had a major impact on pets and many within the pet industry.
According to reports from pet industry trade magazine
Pet Products News International and the Reptile Channel, some prominent pet stores were decimated, and such factors as flooding, power outages and travel restrictions caused some serious problems for pet store owners and operators.
Here's what I know so far.
A Popular Pet Boutique Gets Wiped Out
In Manhattan, which was hit especially hard, the Salty Paw pet grooming
and pet daycare boutique was completely destroyed. Store manager Janet Carhuayano revealed that the flooding was so intense that water was literally up to the ceiling!
This resulted in the loss of all of the store's inventory, flooring and drywall, all of which had to be disposed of. Fortunately, the staff had the foresight to remove the business’s computer, and the building has a cement shell.
The Salty Paw folks vow to rebuild the business, and hope to be up and running again within a month.
Loss of Electricity From Sandy Causes Huge Problems for Pet Shops
The New Jersey shore, where I live, was also hammered by the hurricane. In addition to massive flooding, prolonged power outages were a major problem, especially for fish store
In Brick, 88 Pet World was especially hard hit. Owner Joe Ricciuti told the media that he lost all of his feeder fish, frozen food and some corals. The store also sells small exotic pets
such as hedgehogs, ferrets
, and keeping these critters alive was an enormous challenge.
On the bright side, the store did have a working generator. However, Ricciuti had to schlep it home every night for fear that thieves would make off with it.
He was optimistic, however, and plans to hit the ground running to make up for his losses as soon as things get back to normal.
The Pet Services Sector Takes a Hit from the Hurricane
In Home Pet Services, a pet sitting
and dog walking franchise with locations throughout Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, was seriously affected by the storm. The most heartbreaking news was that one franchise owner, Andrea Romero, lost her home, which is where she conducted much of her business.
Despite her own troubles, Romero valiantly helped pet owners to evacuate their pets during the storm. Meanwhile, the company's personnel have all pulled together to help her get back on her feet.
In other news, Long Island-based pet photographer Richie Schwartz
, with whom I was in contact through Facebook, told me that his photo studio and some of his equipment were damaged due to wind and rain from the hurricane.
However, I am happy to report that he is physically okay, and his troubles haven't stopped him from keeping pet owners continually updated with information about evacuation resources, how people can help pets and other pertinent info.
Richie also helped to facilitate donations and other forms of aid for pet owners affected by the storm.
Richie has a heart as big as a whale!
PetSmart Gets Smart About Sheltering Pets During the Hurricane
A few days before Hurricane Sandy hit, I stopped in at the PetSmart store in the town to which I had evacuated to check on the kitties they have for adoption.
When I saw that all of the cats
were gone, I asked an employee about this and she told me that the store had arranged well in advance to find temporary foster homes for them during the storm.
As you may have guessed, I was vastly relieved to hear this.
Pets Find Shelter From the Storm
One of the most heartening aspects of Hurricane Sandy was that rescue shelters, emergency personnel, pet businesses and just plain folks all pitched in to come to the aid of pet owners and pets affected by the storm.
In Manhattan, the Animal Medical Center remained open around the clock to help sick pets, whose numbers were considerable.
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg insisted that pet owners be allowed to bring their pets to hurricane shelters.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie implored evacuees to take their pets with them. In addition, the state's Department of Agriculture teamed up with the state Office of Emergency Management, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Humane Society of the United States to help pets and to assist people in finding lost animals via setting up a 24-hour hotline.
Thanks to the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS) passed in 2006 as a result of Hurricane Katrina, during which an estimated 600,000 pets died or were left homeless because provisions were not made for them, it is now mandatory for state and local governments to include pets in emergency and rescue operations.
Not only has the PETS Act helped to save the lives of many companion animals, this has also aided in reducing the loss of human lives as many people perished during Katrina because they opted to stay with their pets when they were told to evacuate.
How Pet Shops Can Help
Many in the pet industry are stepping up to help pets in the aftermath of the hurricane.
PetSmart Charities is in the process of donating pet supplies to rescue shelters throughout the affected areas. Petco is donating pet food through its annual National Pet Food Drive, taking place through Nov. 11.
Meanwhile, a Facebook page called Hurricane Sandy Lost and Found Pets
has been set up to aid in helping people find lost pets.
The Vet Street website provides details about how to help, with a comprehensive list of links to rescue shelters, donation sites and other info which you can access by clicking here
Another great resource for those in the New York area is the North Shore Animal League, a wonderful no-kill shelter that is doing a great job with pet rescue efforts. For more info, click here
I am confident that my colleagues in the pet industry will step up to the plate. We pet lovers are a special breed, with hearts bigger than any storm!
(To read a heartwarming story about how President Obama helped to reunite an evacuated New Jersey boy with his kitties, click here.)