Local animal rescue organizations on standby to help out with Hurricane Ian relief

Animal rescue organizations in Puget Sound are getting ready to help emergency shelters affected by Hurricane Ian, if needed.

The Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART) assists with intense animal rescue operations in western Washington, and the organization says its members are on alert to help with disaster relief in Florida.

The Enumclaw-based non-profit says its out-of-state deployments stopped because of the pandemic, but now, between two and 100 of its members are ready to help once a national organization calls them.

"We believe that by taking care of the animals of the folks that have been displaced, it allows them the opportunity to get their lives sorted out knowing their beloved pets are taken care of in a safe and caring environment," said Gretchen McCallum, co-founder of WASART.

McCallum says its trained responders are typically deployed for a week and could be doing anything from cleaning, transportation and other general animal care.

Volunteers who choose deployment would not get paid, would have to take time off from work and use their own vacation time to help these animals.

"We have the capacity and training and compassion and the action to make these animals' lives better and this is why we do what we do," said McCallum.

See the latest stories on Hurricane Ian and how to help those impacted here.