We probably haven't seen the last of our winter storms this season, and for the first time there's a new resource for pet owners who need help.
People United for Rescue and Rehabilitation (P.U.R.R.) West Virginia is now a local arm of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and when Sandy hit, their task was to help people and animals here in our state.
"We were actually deployed to our area in order to set up an emergency shelter for all the pets that their families had been displaced by the storm," said Lorna Vincent Venter, P.U.R.R.'s executive director.
Many people in our area were in the dark and the cold for several days after the storm hit and had no choice but to seek shelter.
"The owners were very worried," Venter said. "Some of them wouldn't leave their homes because they had to leave their pets."
P.U.R.R. took in 20 pets whose owners couldn't keep them during the outages, and 75 homeless animals during the storm.
"During the storm, we had several animals that had been left in their homes that the authorities asked us to come and help," Venter said. "They were a little malnourished, a lot of them were very cold because there was no heat."
Once the power was back, the animals went home or to shelters, which didn't have much money left for pet food after repairing homes and restocking shelves.
IFAW's connections to the Pet Finder Foundation and the Pet Smart Charities Foundation helped provide truckloads of pet food for dogs and cats.
"So we're able to deliver pallets of food to them," Venter said. "They're all very grateful and we're very excited and grateful to be able to help them."
Some of that food was also sent to food banks to go home with families in need.
P.U.R.R. hopes that when the next storm hits, families create a disaster plan that includes their pets.
"Many of our people shelters are not pet-friendly, so they had no place to go," Venter said. "But this is the first time that this has been offered in our area so a lot of people didn't know. We're working on spreading the word that P.U.R.R. is available during emergencies as an IFAW partner."
The shelter will provide the same services if IFAW deploys them in our area again.
P.U.R.R. was able to find homes for 518 cats in 2012, which is more than double their adoptions for 2011.
There are always more in need of good homes, though. Visit them here and vote for P.U.R.R. in the Animal Rescue Shelter Challenge. They could win $1,000.