As Hurricane Michael intensifies, propelling a threat of storm surge, local animal rescue volunteers are gearing up for the inevitable: abandoned and lost pets on the brink of starvation that need help.
One local volunteer is on standby, watching the news and ready to gear up if things get bad.
“I want to make a difference I want to save whatever I can,” said Peter Torres, CEO of Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue.
Torres' desire to help animals doesn’t have boundaries. He’s responded to Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Harvey… and that’s just in the last two years.
“So whenever people say there is going to be a disaster, we say OK bring it on. We are ready,” he said.
Torres says animal rescue volunteers often get little sleep and go into situations without knowing what they’ll find.
“Everyone is going to be out there for the people and I get it, people deserve to help each other, but then you have the forgotten which would be the animals,” he said.
Torres says it hurts his heart whenever he sees a dead pet.
“Maybe their owners left them tied to a tree or whatever and they drowned or died of starvation, again you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.
Torres says it’s a depressing situation volunteers will never get used to.
“All you can do is try to deal with it and do what you can to save those that are still alive and make a difference,” he said.
A difference, a chance to save a life. I
In the coming hours, if need be, Torres will begin collecting water, food and medicine to take to animal shelters close to where the Hurricane hits.
"We don’t know when it’s going to be our turn, so we also want to have that relationship," he said. "So when it happens to us, they will be there for us. It’s South Florida, you never know."
Torres says if you own a pet, get it microchipped in case they get lost.
Hurricanes hitting South Florida aren’t a question of if, but when.