As Hurricane Florence barrels its way toward the Carolinas, animal shelters there were faced with the prospect of having to kill all the cats and dogs in their care.

That's when a Morris County-based shelter stepped in.

On Tuesday, Eleventh Hour Rescue put out a foster plea after receiving word that an overcrowded shelter in North Carolina was planning to euthanizing some of its dogs that were being held in outside pens. Within a day, Linda Schiller, the group's founder and president, said they had gotten enough support from the community to bring enough animals north, allowing the shelter to halt its plans before any more dogs were put down.

"They want to keep these dogs, but because they're so overcrowded they had to take precautions," she said. "These are not bad animals that are being euthanized. These are companion animals and it's a shame for them to be killed just for space. It's not like they're sick or aggressive."

Eleventh Hour Rescue

Schiller said her group is preparing a transport to rescue almost two dozen animals from a shelter in North Carolina as the southern states await the arrival of Hurricane Florence. In a matter of two days, the organization's volunteers have worked together to not only help get the animals to New Jersey, but also get them into foster homes when they arrive.

"The Category 4 slamming into an area, it's just like Katrina all over again," she said. "You have areas where they're 10 feet below sea level. It's going to be devastating."

Eleventh Hour Rescue

While the process of helping the animals in the hurricane zone is just beginning, Schiller said they will have more work to do when the storm passes and the totality of the damage done is known. She said after putting out a foster plea volunteers have been busy processing all the applications ahead of the arrival of the 11 dogs and 10 cats in the first transport. The rescued animals will be put into foster care and then be ready for adoption, she said.

Eleventh Hour Rescue

The work of rescuing animals from disaster areas has come a long way. Schiller said after Katrina they took an RV down to the area to bring home the animals. Now, she said there is a company dedicated to transporting large numbers of animals to get them safely to New Jersey.

"I think Katrina taught everybody a lesson because the response now from the community to try to get the animals out in advance was overwhelming," she said. "There's so many bad thing that happen in this world, and then something like this reminds you that there's more good than bad and people are really kind and compassionate and wonderful."

Eleventh Hour Rescue

In addition to finding the animals homes, Schiller said they will need medical attention when they get to New Jersey, which could be expensive depending on the number of animals and their conditions. Donations to the shelter can be made on its website. The organization also has a PayPal account, which accepts monetary donations.

Much like the people in the hurricane zone, Schiller said organizations are busy preparing for whatever Hurricane Florence brings.

"It feels good to know that we're saving some lives," she said. "That's our reward."

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