With Hurricane Ophelia on its way to Donegal, Animals In Need Donegal (AIN) have issued an appeal encouraging people to protect their pets by keeping them indoors for the duration of the storm.

Hurricane Ophelia is set to be the worst storm to hit our shores since Hurricane Debbie in 1961. Met Eireann has warned that this is the strongest hurricane to form in the Atlantic Ocean since records began. With this in mind, Animals in Need has asked that people be mindful of their pets and feral animals they may be caring for at this time.

A spokesperson from the animal rescue charity asks that people please keep their pets indoors during the storm, and to ensure that larger animals are secured in barns or stables.

The spokesperson said: “Hurricanes and storms are not only dangerous because of the risks from trees or structures collapsing, debris flying around and the unusually high tides causing rivers to flood, animals are terrified of storms and often panic, run away and then either get lost, injured or even worse.

“When you consider that a dog’s hearing is up to four times more acute than ours, what sounds pretty scary to us sounds like the end of the world to them.”

For those who care for feral cats within their community, Animals in Need ask that you ensure that any cat shelters are in the most sheltered place possible, and are weighed down so as the shelter does not blow away.

The spokesperson concluded: “The message is a simple one. When the storm hits, please make sure your animals are inside. Keep them in. Keep them safe.”

Storms are particularly hazardous for birds so if you come across any injured birds or other wildlife, please contact: http://www.irishwildlifematters.ie/animals/contacts.html.

Animals In Need Donegal CLG is a registered charity run entirely by unpaid volunteers. The dog helpline number is 087 1356188. For cat/kitten enquiries please call 087 7644420.