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Why I don't like Ike (and why no animal lover should)

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:38pm

Staring down the barrel of a gun never was my idea of a fun pastime. Watching Ike advance feels akin to that same kind of prickly-cold dread. First too far north, now too far south…yet Miami, my hometown and current place of residence, is still well within the cone of error (and still three days away).



South Florida never has been too unified in its approach to the homeless animals in our midst—nor have sufficient numbers of our large animal owners ever cared much to invest in hurricane-ready infrastructure for their creatures. Hurricane Andrew’s devastation to the bovine and equine members of our community fifteen years ago proved that the way we housed our larger domesticated species was woefully inadequate—and, sadly, not much has been done to change that since.

It’s a safe bet, then, that when a hurricane like Ike hits, we’ll be cleaning up cow bodies from lakes, forcing imbedded posts out of impaled horses, rounding up stray, starving pets and generally looking for ways to discuss “disaster relief” for the next big one…as if predicting the impact of an Ike requires the kind of clairvoyance only a recent emergency can conjure.

No, we’re not ready.

As I write scripts for tranquilizers with all the precautionary vet-babble that entails, I make sure people have considered pet food and medications, made provisions for collecting water, tagged their pets securely and planned for crating in the event of penetrating home damage during the storm.

But with the pre-storm flurry of “does-Target-still-have-batteries?”-style concerns, I’d bet most of it goes in one ear and out the other. Rest assured, I hear more about securing boats than I do about trailering large animals to higher, safer ground (and that’s NOT because we have more boats than livestock species).

No doubt a significant percentage of owners are taking every possible precaution (my goats, for example, will come indoors)—but that won’t be enough. Too many horses survive (just barely) on South Florida scrubland to expect that their “owners” will consider where they’ll be housed in the event of a crisis the likes of Ike.

And how about the cattle some developers use to attain tax advantages in advance of construction? As they graze their grass, blissfully unaware of Ike or any other devastating storm, they’re content in their ignorance of their role as placeholders for the cookie-cutter homes that’ll soon displace them. Do you think these developers care where they go to find shelter?

There just aren’t enough hurricane-safe facilities around here to keep all the animals safe. There’s no way these already used and abused animals, among other less valued creatures, would find the kind of shelter they need—unless their owners suddenly awoke to a crisis of conscience and began building the cinder-block structures any coastal herd deserves in hurricane-prone Florida…for next year’s season’s threat.

So keep an eye out throughout the weekend. Keep us in mind on Monday and Tuesday if big Ike does shift north again. And all you rescuers out there? If Ike finally does make landfall here, we’d love to have you…so keep an eye on those CheapTickets fares, too, while you’re at it.
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