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Shelters Step In For Superstorm Sandy Victims Who Can't Keep Their Pets

JACKSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Many victims of Superstorm Sandy have lost a lot, including their homes, possessions and everything precious, and now as they try to rebuild their lives, some families are also faced with the danger of losing their pets.

But as CBS 2's Christine Sloan reported, volunteers have brought hope and long-term help for pets.

Rania Michael-Garcia said she feared having to give up her beloved dogs, "Cosmo" and "Coco," when Sandy left her homeless.

"You cry, and you try to tell yourself, 'Well, yeah, it might have to be that way,'" she said.

Throughout storm-ravaged areas, storm victims have struggled to keep their families and pets together. Some have even chosen to live in their cars.

That option crossed Michael-Garcia's mind, but then she found hope at Seer Farms in Jackson, N.J.

"There was a sense of relief," she said.

Seer Farms started as a foster home for pets caught in the middle of the foreclosure crisis. The shelter is currently providing a temporary homes to the dogs and cats of those devastated by Sandy.

"So many people are saying that they don't have anything left of their lives, except the clothes on their backs and the animals they are handing off to us," said Seer Farms founder Laura Popel.

Michael-Garcia said she was comforted by the idea of taking her dogs to Seer Farms.

"You know they're away, but they're going to come back," she said.

In the Rockaways, displaced residents have also had to say goodbye to their pets, for now.

"I don't want to lose him so this is the way to do it – temporarily," Betty Giollioz said tearfully.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been helping dogs such as "Hero," who will stay at its emergency shelter in Brooklyn for a few weeks.

The program is free and offers medical attention for pets in need like "Mia." Her eyes became infected after being exposed to the storm wreckage near her home.

"You feel bad but she needs it," said Claire O'Sullivan of Rockaway Park. "She's sick. She needs to get out the dirt and dust."

Katie Doherty's dogs came to Seer Farms after flood waters ravaged her father's home.

"It was dark, and I didn't want to leave them here, and I couldn't take them anywhere else," said Brian Doherty of Point Pleasant. "There was nowhere to go; no one would take pets. And so I I stayed with them in the cold house."

Pets can stay at the shelter at 1508 Herkheimer St. in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn for up to six months. If the owners need more time, volunteers are willing to work with them.

Dozens of volunteers pamper their pets, but families are encouraged to visit.

"We're happy that we knew they were safe, and they were being fed and taken care of, so we could figure out our situation," Katie Doherty said.

The shelters have made a difference with a cuddle or a touch, leaving owners knowing their pets will have a home as they try to put their lives back together.

Seer Farms asks pet owners for a $50 donation, but the shelters has waived all fees for Sandy victims.

For more information about the ASPCA assistance program, call the Sandy hotline at (347) 573-1561.

Have you had to give up your pet in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, or do you know anyone who has? Leave your comments below...

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