Wake County

‘This is my heart.’ Volunteers help dogs and cats evacuated from flooded shelters.

Volunteer veterans group working animal rescue after Florence

A volunteer group made up mostly of military veterans and first responders rescued a woman and two cats from her home near Wilmington, North Carolina, on September 16, although the woman’s brother and father elected to stay behind.
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A volunteer group made up mostly of military veterans and first responders rescued a woman and two cats from her home near Wilmington, North Carolina, on September 16, although the woman’s brother and father elected to stay behind.

The word “VET” was written in black sharpie on a strip of silver duct tape on Colleen Peat’s left shoulder. She reassured Jake, a small chihuahua-mix, as she helped draw blood from the dog.

Just a few days earlier she’d planned to stay in Wilmington at the animal hospital where she worked. But with three children and Florence a Category-4 hurricane, she knew she had to get her family out of harm’s way. So she, her husband, kids and pets evacuated to a friend’s house in Holly Springs to wait out the storm.

She heard the N.C. State Fairgrounds had become a staging ground for animals rescued from flooded animal shelters. So Monday, Peat was one of dozen volunteers that filled the Holshouser Building to care for dogs rescued from the Carteret County Humane Society.

“If I can’t go home, I might as well work,” she said.

The New Port animal shelter was flooded and its roof had collapsed this past weekend, with more than 100 cats and dogs needing rescue. Most of those dogs and cats made the treacherous and long journey from Carteret County in eastern North Carolina to the fairgrounds Sunday night.

Apex-based Peak Lab Rescue was one of the groups that traveled down to the animal shelter to bring the animals to the fairgrounds.

Kelli Ferris, a veterinarian from N.C. State University, helped organize the staging area and oversaw the medical exams.

“This is the culmination of a lot of organizations and volunteers,” she said. “It takes a lot of rescue groups and caretakers to pull this off.”

There the animals were given a medical exam, fed, counted and photographed. In the coming days the fairground building will empty and the dogs and cats will be sent to other rescue groups around the state and country.

Unlike when more than 400 animals stayed at the building after Hurricane Floyd, this was just temporary staging area. People can’t adopt or foster the animals at this time, but rescue groups are still needed to help take the animals in. Interested groups can contact Nicole Kincaid at 919-264-5390 or nicole.k@cfp-nc.org.

Word had gotten out about the need for pet food, paper towels and blankets, and the outer rim of the building was filled with donations. The volunteers put out on Facebook they no longer needed donations, but blankets were still being delivered Monday. Any donations not used will be sent to animal shelters and rescues that were affected by the hurricane.

Marcia Martin was tasked with stacking and sorting the dog treats, dog bowls and paper towels.

She lives in Durham but has a home in Carolina Beach. She thinks it’s OK from the photos she’s seen on Facebook, but she isn’t sure when she’ll get back down there to check.

A dog trainer, she knew she wanted to be someplace where she could help.

“This is second nature,” she said. “I want to be where I can help the dogs, and rescue is in my heart. This is in my heart.”



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