More than 300 dogs and cats in the path of Hurricane Irma have already been transported from central Florida, Savannah and other affected areas to the Atlanta Humane Society’s metro Atlanta campuses.
Now, upon request from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the nonprofit organization is preparing to make room for up to 1,000 animals in a temporary emergency shelter in Roswell.
Volunteers secured a 60,000-square-foot former Home Depot store Friday, a massive facility donated by Atlanta property management company Mimms Enterprises.
The space, located at 1425 Market Boulevard, is now fully operational with separate areas for cats and dogs.
“As far as emergency shelters go, this is like the Taj Mahal,” Tara High, AHS vice president of operations told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
According to High, the emergency shelter is expected to house at least 300 displaced animals by Monday morning from Osceola County Animal Services in St. Cloud, Florida, the Humane Society for Greater Savannah and from Atlanta’s Fulton County Animal Services shelter, which is at high flood risk.
The Humane Society will continue to take in pets at shelters in Irma-affected areas, as well as some evacuees’ pets.
Outpouring of community support, donations
Volunteers have worked tirelessly to make sure there’s enough food and water for the 500-1,000 animals they’ve been asked by the state to prepare for.
By Saturday, Pet food company Purina donated countless bags of food and Petsmart donated plenty of crates, but the shelter was still struggling to gather other pet essentials.
The Humane Society took to its Facebook page that evening to announce an urgent need from the public for stainless steel feeding bowls, towels, puppy pads, pet toys and more.
By Sunday afternoon, the empty warehouse had filled up with donated items, from potty bags to cleaning supplies, blankets, cozy beds and colorful toys with enough squeak in them to put a smile on Fido’s face.
“The outpouring from the community has completely exceeded expectations,” High said. “It’s been very heartwarming.”
The shelter is no longer in need of specific items and will not be accepting donated items Monday.
However, the public can make monetary donations online.
Humane Society volunteers will be working 24/7 at all three of its locations — Howell Mill, Mansell and the emergency shelter in Roswell — as Hurricane Irma passes through Atlanta.
Just last week, AHS shelters took in 130 animals from parts of Texas and Louisiana in response to Hurricane Harvey.