SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Many of those who fled as Superstorm Sandy approached had no choice but to leave behind their beloved pets.

But as CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, now, thanks to the hard work of animal rescue crews, those pets have been reunited with their families. Murdock rode along with the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The sun was shining on Seaside Heights this week, but the sadness was overwhelming for Laurie Molinaro.

“I don’t care about the house. I don’t care about what we lost. All I care about is that the animals are OK,” Molinaro told an animal rescue officer.

Molinaro only had four hours to gather whatever she could from her home, but her cats – Stash and Paulie — were her priority

“They’re scared. They don’t know what happened. They don’t understand,” she said. “All they know is their lives were turned upside down like the rest of us.”

She called the New Jersey SPCA to take and shelter the cats until she could bring them home again.

The New Jersey SPCA typically typically tackles the problem of animal abuse, But Sandy’s devastation meant a new set of responsibilities and a lot more phone calls.

“We have changed our mission in the last two weeks,” said NJSPCA Chief Officer Col. Frank Rizzo. “These people need our help and their animals need to be rescued.”

For more than a week, NJSPCA crews have been working round the clock, most often going from empty house to empty house in search of stranded animals.

“People have been calling, sending their keys,“ Rizzo said.

They returned to one home where a kitten earlier escaped them, Thankfully, the second time, he was perched near the window and Detective Larry Donato was able to scoop him up.

He was scrawny, but will survive. So will two turtles who went more than a week without food.

With all five little creatures safely stored inside – the crews head to the nearest shelter. There, rescued cats and dogs are cared for until their owners come to claim them.

Kristina Stromblad hoped her cat, Chloe, was here.

“I left her enough food and water for four days – who knew,” said Stromblad, of Lavallette.

After two weeks apart they were finally reunited.

The NJSPCA has rescued hundreds of animals over the past week and a half. If you have had to leave your pet and live along the shore, go to NJSPCA online for more information.

Also, on Nov. 13, comics will “stand up” for homeless animals and put on a benefit for Sandy pets.

Click here for more information on “Funny for Fido.”

In New York the Best Friends Animal Society is seeking assistance in transporting animals from shelters in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Volunteers should contact New York City Coordinator Tammy Heeber via email. In the subject line indicate which pick up point you can assist with.

Pick up points are located at:

1. Brooklyn Animal Care & Control
    2366 Linden Blvd.
    Brooklyn, NY
5 dogs – between 40 and 70lbs.
15 cats
2. Manhattan Animal Care & Control
    326 East 110th Street (between 1st & 2nd    Ave)
5 dogs between 40 and 70 lbs.,
15 cats
Destination for all animals:
   Northwind Kennels
   402 Old Post Road
   Bedford, NY
In the body of the email volunteers should indicate how many animals they will be able to transport.

More information is available at the Best Friends’ Facebook Page, and from the Shelter Reform Action Committee.

Do you know anyone who had to leave a pet behind during Superstorm Sandy? Leave a comment below…

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