Four-legged friends get a safe place to stay following Sandy

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By Shannon Connelly
November 15, 2012

Wall Township – Humans were not the only ones affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts can attest to that, as both its facilities have been open around the clock to accommodate evacuees – the four-legged kind, that is.

“We were crushed,” said Purr’n Pooch owner Dick Palazzo. “Our staff has been working around the clock.”

Both of the Purr’n Pooch pet facilities, one in Wall Township and one in Tinton Falls, provided a home away from home for pets during the storm. The pet resorts are staffed 24 hours per day and offer safe, luxury accommodations, training, and recreation for pets.

“Our dogs were out playing and enjoying life while people were evacuating,” Mr. Palazzo said.

In the days before and after the hurricane, as many families were evacuated from their homes, Purr’n Pooch took in pets from all over the state, as well as from New York.

“We opened up our doors to help the storm victims,” Mr. Palazzo said. “We had people dropping off at 2 a.m.”

Some have already booked multiple month stays for their pets, as they know they will be without homes for some time, Mr. Palazzo said.

“We just had one call today to reserve a three-month stay,” he said. “Some of them have to do renovations on their home or are being relocated.”

Aside from the dogs, Purr’n Pooch has also recently taken in many cats to keep them in a safe place after the devastation caused by the storm.

“Cats really are very curious and anything that is disrupted they will go to explore,” Mr. Palazzo said. “When they explore, they tend to get themselves lost.”

Though both facilities lost power, as did most of the area, they were set up on generators through the duration of the outage.

The day of the storm, October 29, Purr’n Pooch also sent out vehicles on the road, Mr. Palazzo said, and in doing so picked up two dogs running loose and returned them to their owners.

“People actually claimed them,” he said.

He explained that pets can become disoriented when storms are approaching,

“They can feel it coming,” he said. “They get stressed, they get a little disoriented, some of them will even try to ground themselves or take off.”

Though many owners were evacuated and displaced, pets played stress-free at the facility in Wall, which was recently renovated to include soundproof walls.

Mr. Palazzo said his facilities filled up to about 200 pets ranging from dogs to a few reptiles, which is about 20 percent more critters than usual.

“There are not so many places you can go with your animal,” he said, noting many families are staying in hotels that do not allow animals.

To prepare for the increase in guest, Purr’n Pooch did not have to do much, Mr. Palazzo said, as the facilities are always stocked with water and food.

“We always are prepared with tanks of water, so we have 50 to 100 gallon drums and we have water on hand,” he said. “Certainly, food orders are extra, but we always have reserve.”

He did, however, quickly start organizing shifts in rotation when he got word of the storm headed this way.

“We knew something was coming. At that point we organized our shifts,” he said. “The staff has been wonderful.”

Aside from caring for pets staying at the facilities, Purr’n Pooch is also hoping to help other animals who have been affected by Sandy.

The Purr’n Pooch Foundation for Animals, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support to animal rescue groups, has been collecting food, which it will be donating and distributing to pets in need.