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L.I. Sandy Victims Forced To Put Pets In Shelters While They Rebuild Lives

Pet shelter on Long Island. (credit: CBS 2)

Pet shelter on Long Island. (credit: CBS 2)

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Superstorm Sandy

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Superstorm Sandy’s so-called pet victims are lonely.

Hundreds of animals displaced by the storm are living in cages at pet shelters. Now, there is a push for cat and dog foster homes for the holidays.

Rolf Silgander said he could barely bring himself to say goodbye.

“It’s horrible, really. I feel like crying every time I leave. It brings tears to your eyes. They are like family members, like our children,” Silgander told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan on Friday.

His Jack Russell Terriers “Cassie” and “Carman” have been living in an emergency pet shelter since the Silgander’s Massapequa home was destroyed by Sandy.

His dogs joined 250 other homeless animals that are being housed by Nassau County in makeshift pet barracks in a former military gymnasium on Mitchell Field.

“This is a huge need right now for the people in the area. A lot of people have met with FEMA and been told they can’t go back into their homes for months, so then what do you do with your animals?” said Lindsey Calabrese of the North Shore Animal League.

“The stress level is getting higher and higher every day that goes by…my wife was in tears,” pet owner Steve Angel said.

Angel’s Long Beach home was flooded. Their boxer named “Blue” got sick in the mold. They needed emergency pet housing. Veterinarians at the pet shelter helped nurse Blue back to health.

“As soon as we get our house straightened out or if we get a trailer from FEMA, we can bring him home right away, and give him all the love that he needs,” Angel said.

There is plenty of love at Mitchell Field amid piped in music as dozens of unpaid volunteers work round the clock caring for and feeding dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and turtles until the animals can be reunited with their families.

“Some of these people are going to have a problem getting back in their homes very quickly, so we’d like to get these animals into a pet-friendly foster program. Something like pet homes for the holidays,” said Gary Rogers with the Nassau County SPCA.

For displaced families who fear they will never be able to reclaim their pets, they have been reassured by the county euthanasia is not an option. Loving families will be found for all of these animals.

Displaced families are asking Long Island landlords for compassion, urging landlords to relax no-pet rules in apartments, condo, and coops — at least temporarily.

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