Hundreds of Carolina residents take in shelter animals as Hurricane Florence hits

Hundreds of South Carolina and North Carolina residents have volunteered to shelter homeless animals as Hurricane Florence lashes the coastline.

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., shortly after 7 a.m. on Friday as a Category 1 storm.

The storm is expected to bring massive amounts of rain and severe flooding to the Carolinas.

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ABC News reported that animal shelters in the region were forced to evacuate with the needy animals in their care and asked locals to help house the pets.

Saving Grace, an animal shelter in Wake Forest, N.C., said more than 120 dogs are now in the care of community members.

"We are grateful for those individuals in our community who stepped up yesterday to open their homes to 124 Saving Grace dogs," the shelter said Thursday. "All these dogs came to us in need, some from evacuated shelters this week and some have been with us prior to 'Florence' waiting for their forever homes.

"We may have a small shelter but our volunteers and the difference they make in the lives of many is huge," it added in a Facebook post, showing off pictures of the empty cages. 

Saving Grace also posted photos of the pups in their "hurricane foster homes."

Other shelters were forced to evacuate the animals outside of the flood zones.

The Charleston Animal Society (CAS) in Charleston, S.C., said it had more than 550 animals in its care as of Thursday.

They evacuated 62 dogs, 25 kittens and four bunnies, ABC News reported.

"We are standing by and ready to support Tri-County emergency pet shelters for the public," the shelter said. "We expect most of the evacuations and other responses will increase with flooding over the next week or so, at which time, CAS will serve as a regional staging area for supplies, etc."

Jewel Horton, manager of Pender County Animal Shelter, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that shelters will be overcrowded as abandoned animals are moved to their care. 

Animals in local, government-run shelters could be put down in an effort to make space, she said.

“We are avoiding euthanasia at all costs,” Horton said. “That’s why we’re begging for assistance.”

Shelters and animal rights group have been pleading with residents evacuating to take their animals with them.

"We can’t stress enough how important it is to incorporate pets into evacuation plans to keep families together and pets safe,” Dick Green, head of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals disaster response unit, said in the statement.