West Palm Beach officials rescued more than 50 animals that Florida pet owners abandoned just before Hurricane Irma made landfall Saturday, Tampa Bay NBC affiliate WPTV reported.
Palm Beach County Animal Care reports animal control officers have scooped up 49 dogs and two cats since Friday.
“These are literally dogs whose owners had gone and they were left either in pens or in yards they were not able to get out of or tethered or chained,” Director of Animal Care Diane Suave said to WPTV. “It’s pretty horrific. You have these unbelievable winds that are blowing and every little item is a projectile which can flay the skin off an animal.”
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By the time winds reached 35 mph, animal control officers were called off the road Saturday and were no longer allowed to recue anymore animals.
Sauve and lawyer Dave Aronberg told ABC affiliate WFTS that individuals caught leaving their animals outside by themselves in the middle of the hurricane will face prosecution.
“This is a prime example of animal cruelty,” Aronberg said. “We will find you, and we will prosecute you.”