Greenwich Nursing Home May Take Pets During Emergencies

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The Nathaniel Witherell in Greenwich may soon shelter owners and their pets in the event of emergencies like Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: Eric Gendron

GREENWICH, Conn. – Pet owners who were forbidden by Greenwich law from bringing pets to shelters during Hurricane Sandy might have options in case of another emergency thanks to a local nursing home.

The Nathaniel Witherell, the not-for-profit nursing home owned and operated by the Town of Greenwich, is considering accepting pets and their owners in the event of another town-wide emergency like Hurricane Sandy.

"We have always been a potential site for people who would require shelter during emergencies," Nathaniel Witherell Executive Director Allen Brown said. "What our board is considering is allowing people to bring pets and I'm expecting them to be accepting of that decision."

Brown said some decisions still have to be made by the board as to how much the facility can supply owners, such as providing food and crates for the animals.

State Rep. Fred Camillo, who took in an elderly woman and her dog during Hurricane Sandy because of the town policy, is hoping the town changes its laws before another emergency hits.

"I'm confident the town will look into this issue soon," Camillo said. "The longer this lingers, the more of a chance there is of another storm happening. God forbid somebody gets hurt or killed because the town wouldn't allow them to take their pets in."

He added that he didn't expect the need for a lot of extra people and pets at shelters during emergencies, but the town should still be prepared.

"I understand that there's some concerns in the protocol and procedures," Camillo said. "But the fact is we're one of the few towns that hasn't done this. We just have to contact some of our neighbor towns and ask how they do it. I just don't know for the life of me why this has taken so long."

According to Camillo, no one was turned away from a shelter because of a pet during Hurricane Sandy. But many Greenwich residents were notified ahead of the storm that non-service pets would not be accepted at shelters.

Camillo added that he expects the Greenwich Board of Selectmen to address the issue in the near future.

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