Very few people get to meet the President of the United States, but a Brigantine teenager not only met President Obama, but got him to call in a big favor, too. Nearly a year later, there was a very happy homecoming for the family, and their furry friends.
“They mean a lot, I love them a lot.” Nicholas Pollastrelli couldn't be happier to have his cats Madeline and Bella back with him and his mom. “It's good,” said the 16 year-old, “it's a nice feeling.”
It was a reunion nearly a year in the making, after they were forced to leave their Brigantine home that was badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy. “Our house got flooded,” explained Nick. While evacuated last October, he got to meet President Obama, who visited Brigantine after the storm. “He asked about our house and stuff,” Nick recalled, “and then he asked if our cats were OK, and we were like they're still there.”
“When we first got the call, I was like, who is this,” remembered Steven Dash, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Atlantic County, “what are we really talking about?” Dash says they were contacted, thanks to President Obama, and rescued the cats. They've cared for them at their shelter up until this week. “We nicknamed them the “Obama cats,”” he laughed, “It was nice, you know, we get attached to animals just like everyone else does, but we were thrilled to get them back into their house.”
The Humane Society wasn't spared from Hurricane Sandy either, a year later, they've taken extra precautions to be more prepared for the next big storm. “We just completed our new hurricane evacuation shelter for dogs,” said Dash, “after we saw what happened with Hurricane Sandy, we found that our kennel area had actually flooded.”
Now sitting 45 inches off the ground, they'll be able to keep all the dogs they have in the shelter at any given time high and dry – a lesson learned after Sandy. “It was pretty bad,” said Dash, who stayed in the shelter alone with the animals during the storm, “the kennels had almost two feet of water in the them, the rest of the buildings had anywhere from 6–12 inches depending on what room you were in.”
A situation they're better prepared for, should a similar storm hit, and a happy ending for a local family and their furry friends. “It feels really appreciated and nice,” said Nick.
“We were glad to be able to help,” said Dash.
The Humane Society says their new hurricane shelters will house their dogs, because the cats are already kept in a different, and much higher part of the shelter.
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