Pet shelters filling as animals evacuate for Irma too

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Sevier County dog boarding facilities are quickly reaching their capacity as Hurricane Irma evacuees come to East Tennessee. Many were completely booked within a couple of hours of opening on Wednesday.

Loving Care Kennels has been open for a number of years. One of the owners, Jerica Brackins, said she was having a hard time keeping up with the demand. She got 18 missed calls after closing time in just one hour.

She said many evacuees are desperately looking for a place to bring their dog.

“I had one woman today, she called and left me a message this morning and I called her back and she was in tears because she thought she was going to have to leave her dog because she had nowhere to stay with her dog,” said Brackins.

Brackins’ kennel can fit 24 dogs at a time. By the end of the weekend, more than 20 of them will be from evacuees.

“On top of everything else, they are having to worry about finding lodging for their pets,” said said.

Marni Sotomayor runs Smoky Mountain K9 Cottages in Sevierville. She said taking in these dogs is least after the help her family got after the Sevier County wildfires.

“It’s time to help other people who came in and helped us when we needed it,” she said.

Sotomayor expects to house more than 60 dogs by the end of the weekend. Her normal capacity is 20. Brackins was also staying past business hours to help evacuees stuck in terrible traffic.

“We will do everything we can to get them in here and there are lots of places around here that can,” Brackins said.

Both places are adjusting their normal rates to help families if they need it. Smoky Mountain K9 Cottages said it may need help with dog food and blankets as they begin to surpass its capacity.

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