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Toledo Humane Society helps Fort Myers dogs find safety from Hurricane Ian

Gary Willoughby, the director of the Fort Myers Humane Society, said he didn't have time to get his animals to safety. But, some of their dogs are coming to Toledo.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The Fort Myers Humane Society in Florida is one of the many organizations in Florida hit hard by Hurricane Ian. But, humane societies nationwide jumped in to help, including the Toledo Humane Society

Gary Willoughby, the director of the Fort Myers Humane Society, said he didn't have time to get his animals to safety because he thought Hurricane Ian would hit further north. He said he was only given 24 hours to prepare after previously being told there would be a two-hour gap between the shelter and Hurricane Ian.

With only six staff members, the humane society prepared by walking and feeding the animals, tying down anything that could be thrown around by high winds and refueling backup generators.

Willoughby said his experience working with the Toledo Humane Society prepared him to deal with the hurricane.

"In my time in Toledo, we had the Toledo Water crisis," Willoughby said. "We couldn't even clean the kennels with the water at that time. We had a couple of really bad snowstorms. Natural disasters and weather play a factor in shelters across the country. They all have a different response plan, but taking action to keep the lives of those animals protected is the same no matter where you are."

When Ian hit, the shelter lost part of its roof, trees were knocked down and many of the areas where the animals exercise were destroyed.

Now, the Toledo Humane Society is preparing to receive dogs from Florida. The Toledo group is not working with the Fort Myers Humane Society, but other rescue groups in the hard-hit state.

“We are going to be coordinating the unloading of the dogs to make sure they go to the right humane societies, and then we will bring back the ones that we have had allocated to our shelters here," Toledo Humane Society President Stephen Heaven said. "We will make room for them in our regular adoption and holding area so they should be fine.”

When the animals arrive, they will be checked over. And when they are ready, they will be put up for adoption. Animals up for adoption are listed on the Toledo Humane Society website.

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