While most families were busy evacuating to higher ground in anticipation of Hurricane Florence, Samira Davis, a brand new real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage has been scrambling to organize Sea Coast Pet Sanctuary, a new crisis shelter to temporarily house some of the most vulnerable victims of hurricanes – abandoned dogs and cats. To make her vision a reality, Davis is partnering with Julie Lamacchia, president of Pender County Humane Society, a no-kill shelter in Burgaw, NC, and is being funded by Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, a local real estate brokerage firm with 19 offices from Jacksonville to Calabash.
Before and during hurricanes, most area animal shelters are overwhelmed and at capacity, so many pets are abandoned as their owners seek refuge out-of-town or at area shelters not equipped to handle pets. Another problem that occurs during hurricanes is that many government-funded shelters are legally required to “make space” when at capacity, which puts them in the unenviable position of having to euthanize their charges. Although animals surrendered during a hurricane may be given more time to be reclaimed by their owners, they may become at-risk again when the time period expires. To combat these issues, Davis and Lamacchia created Sea Coast Pet Sanctuary, a crisis shelter of last resort for cats and dogs with nowhere else to go.
To get the program off the ground, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage donated $1,000 in matching funds to Pender County Humane Society and has committed an additional $1,500 donation for supplies. Wade and Ashley Wilson, agents with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, donated the use of a family-owned, 33,000-square-foot warehouse building in Castle Hayne to house the pets and necessary supplies. Davis and Lamacchia are asking people to donate pet crates, blankets and dog food. All donations can be delivered to the Sea Coast Pet Sanctuary warehouse at 4101 Blue Clay Road in Castle Hayne. Volunteers will be on call to receive donations and open the facility based on need.
“Coldwell Banker has a long tradition of supporting pets and pet adoption,” said Tim Milam, president of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. “Pets are cherished members of our families and a very important part of our home life. In 2015, Coldwell Banker launched its Homes for Dogs Project with a goal of finding homes for 25,000 abandoned dogs each year. Locally, we have been very supportive of pet adoption with our own projects. Samira’s Sea Coast Pet Sanctuary is a much-needed solution to a tragic problem and we’re honored to support her vision.”
The Fluffy Bus
In addition to the shelter, Sea Coast Pet Sanctuary, Pender County Humane Society and its volunteers were working overtime this week to relocate animals that may have otherwise been euthanized. On Wednesday, Lamacchia’s husband, Kevin Raffee, drove a rented 9’ moving van dubbed The Fluffy Bus to Pennsylvania to drop off 8 dogs and 10 cats to The Sanctuary at Haafsville, a no-kill shelter in Breinigsville. The pets were relocated from the Pender County Animal Shelter, which was in the unfortunate situation of having to “make space” for new animals because they were at capacity. Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage donated the gas money to transport the pets.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the incredible, generous response of the community to assist us in getting the Sea Coast Pet Sanctuary up and running,” said Samira Davis. “Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage and our agents have just been phenomenal and we couldn’t have done this without them. They’ve helped us get the word out to our agents via email and social media and the agents have really stepped up to help. I have no words to adequately express my gratitude towards Wade and Ashley Wilson for their donation of the warehouse to house our pets. Without them, this crisis shelter would not be possible. And I have to give a shout-out to Kelly Sloop, another Sea Coast Advantage agent. She is an inspiration. My husband and I are brand new to Wilmington and we took in 10 kittens from Pender County Animal Shelter. We were overwhelmed and could not foster them all, so Kelly stepped in to foster two of them and also donated a crate. The world needs more Kelly Sloops!”
Added Lamacchia, “For us, animals are more important than things. Things can be replaced. Anything can be replaced. But you can never replace a life, whether it’s a person or an animal. The Sea Coast Pet Sanctuary is all about saving the lives of helpless dogs and cats and we are so grateful to everyone who has assisted us with this effort.”