(RNN/CNN/WPTV) - Humane authorities in Palm Beach County report finding and rescuing 49 dogs and two cats in the past 48 hours.
The animals were left tethered to trees or cars, trapped in fenced yards and locked in crates. The pets belonged to residents who evacuated their homes as Hurricane Irma approached.
Palm Beach County Animal Care Director Diane Sauve said calls poured in from neighbors who found the trapped pets after their owners had left to seek safety from the storm, reports WPTV.
Sauve said animals left outside in a potentially deadly storm are particularly at risk.
"Even a tiny bit of sand can hurt an animal when it's traveling through 100-plus mile per hour winds," she said.
Sauve said 42 pet owners surrendered their pets to animal care on Friday, explaining they could not take them along to shelters or higher ground - a difficult but much more humane solution as the storm gets closer.
Florida State Attorney Dave Aronberg said people who left their pets to ride out the storm will be found.
"This is a prime example of animal cruelty," Aronberg said. "We will find you, and we will prosecute you."
Sauve said authorities will track down the offenders.
"It's unconscionable," she said. "We will not stand for it here in Palm Beach County."
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