NEW YORK CITY — Frantic pet owners who left their four-legged friends behind in their rush to evacuate can now call a 24-hour city hotline in hopes of getting their pets back.
Volunteers at the NYC Animal Planning Task Force hotline will take down the address of the stranded animal, breed, current location of the owners, and any other specific information from callers, then dispatch first responders to rescue the pets and reunite them with their owners, according to ASPCA spokeswoman Emily Schneider.
"We realize that there are people who left their pets behind, and who need help going back in to get them," Schneider said, "This is specifically for people who evacuated who left their pets. If they need help or assistance, we just wanted them to know that we're here to help."
Schneider said that first responders will go into the apartments and retrieve the pets, then the task force will deliver them to the evacuation shelters — all of which are pet friendly — or to wherever the family is staying in the NYC area.
The hotline number is 347-573-1561, and is staffed 24 hours a day with people or voicemail, Schneider said.
To report stray animals, New Yorkers should still call 311, and Animal Care and Control will respond, Schneider said.
For updates on the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the animals in New York City, please visit http://blog.aspca.org/content/how-prepare-your-pets-hurricane-sandy.
The Animal Planning Task Force was created by the NYC Office of Emergency Management and includes representatives from the ASPCA, the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, Animal Care & Control, the Red Cross, and others.