Humane Society aids in evacuating displaced pets

EAST PALESTINE — The Columbiana County Humane Society has filled all of its open kennels — more than 30 of them — and its conference room with pets displaced from the evacuation of East Palestine, and it is still receiving calls about animals left behind in homes, said Executive Director Teresa McGuire.

East Palestine officials Sunday night ordered a mandatory evacuation for a 1-mile area around the site of a train derailment and fire east of East Palestine near the Pennsylvania border. Some 50 cars of a Norfolk Southern train left the tracks around 9 p.m. Friday, including several carrying hazardous materials.

Monday night, emergency crews performed a controlled release of chemicals from five train cars to try to relieve pressure and avoid a large explosion.

McGuire said some families left their homes believing they would be able to return shortly for pets left behind, but were not allowed to do so. On Sunday, Columbiana County Humane Society’s humane agent Erika Rice was able to go into homes and retrieve animals, but by Monday, not even the humane agents were allowed within the evacuation zone.

McGuire said she has since fielded a dozen calls about cats and dogs left in evacuated residences.

“We don’t know what the fallout in that immediate area is, but I imagine it’s not going to be great,” McGuire said, adding that as of Monday night it was unclear when people would be allowed back into the area. “This is kind of an unprecedented situation, so we don’t know what to do expect for the animals left behind right now.”

She said as soon as it is allowed, the humane society will help the animals.

Meanwhile, its shelter at 1825 S. Lincoln Ave., Salem, is full of animals that were evacuated but could not stay with their owners for various reasons. The conference room has been divided into space for small dogs, McGuire said. The shelter also has taken in some very big dogs, including a Cane Corso.

“We’ve actually been cuddling with animals and sending messages and pictures of the animals with our workers (to families), and everybody is saying it makes them feel better,” McGuire said.

The humane society will continue to help pets in any way possible. It has the capacity to take some cats and other small animals like birds, hamsters or guinea pigs, she said. The shelter still has space for dogs outside, but McGuire doesn’t want to put animals outdoors without barriers to protect them from the weather.

The humane society is asking for donations of tarps and wind barriers, along with dog food and treats, cat food and treats, straw and chain link fences to help with the influx of animals — many of which didn’t come with food. Donations may be left under the side porch or in the St. Francis donation box at the animal shelter.

The humane society also will accept gladly the help of adult volunteers who can walk dogs, clean or sit with animals, McGuire said.

McGuire said the timing to help displaced animals worked out as the humane society was at a “low tide” with only three animals in its care. The shelter happens to have an area with just three spaces, so the humane society dogs are separated from the owned animals, she said.

Columbiana County Humane Society is a nonprofit not associated with any government that typically responds to complaints of animals being abused, neglected and abandoned.

Those affected by the train derailment who still need assistance with pets can call the humane society at (234) 575-7177 or message it on Facebook at Columbiana County Humane Society.

The Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County is also offering to temporarily shelter cats and dogs displaced by the evacuation and can be reached at (330) 539-5300.

Another organization, Northern Border kennel, 186 Taggart Road, Darlington, Pa., was taking dogs displaced by the evacuation but announced late Sunday that it could not take any more because it also was being evacuated.



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