PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Walk up to the Pender County Animal Shelter in Burgaw, and you see some animals that look like they don't belong.
"We have goats. We have donkeys, horses, turkeys, chickens, roosters, then, of course, cats, dogs, parrots, and rabbits," said Jewell Horton, the shelter director.
The shelter is housing more than 230 animals, almost half of them rescued from rising floodwaters created by Hurricane Florence.
"This is a massive undertaking," Horton said. "We have been spread out in every single watershed in this county. We've rescued cats from rooftops, and breached entry into houses taking dogs that were floating on mattresses."
So many animals lives have been spared. In many cases, their owners were forced to leave them behind to escape to safety.
Others are asking the shelter to care for their animals until they can return and repair their waterlogged homes.
"Some of these people, their homes are still underwater," Horton said. "They haven't been able to go home yet. Many come out here to our shelter or they go to the emergency shelter we had to set up and spend an hour with their animal. It's like an hour of sanity."
While many animals were saved, not all had happy endings, which means Horton has to sometimes be the bearer of bad news.
"We have had to tell them, one, your house is completely gone and two, if your pet was still inside, it's perished and that is hard, so very hard," said Horton.
Horton says none of the rescued animals are at risk to be euthanized.
"We understand people need time to get back to normalcy," she said. "We are going to do what we can to keep their animals safe and dry."
An emergency shelter at Burgaw Middle School and the Pender County Animal Shelter on New Savannah Road are offering free pet food, cat litter, leashes, and other pet items for free to those in need.
If you lost your pet in the storm, or know someone who has, call 910-259-1484