An animal shelter in the path of Hurricane Florence has warned it will euthanize animals if it can’t find people to adopt them before the storm hits.

Jewel Horton, manager of Pender County Animal Shelter in North Carolina, said on Wednesday that local government-run animal shelters were filling up fast and that those that hit capacity must “make space”.

This means putting down animals to reduce overcrowding. “We are avoiding euthanasia at all costs,” Ms Horton said. “That's why we're begging for assistance.” Organisations such as the Pender County Humane Society are helping to facilitate adoption and are working to clear space in the shelter without having to sacrifice any animals.

“For us, animals are more important than things,” said Julie Lamacchia, who is president of the Burgaw, North Carolina-based Humane Society. “Things can be replaced - anything can be replaced - but you can never replace a life, whether it's a person or an animal.”

Killing animals is the last thing the shelter staff want to do, Ms Horton said.

Usually, when the shelter in the town of about 4,100 people nears capacity, she gets the word out and residents respond. Samira Davis, a Wilmington resident, volunteered on Monday to help the Pender County Humane Society coordinate animal relocation. She said they've done a good job - for now.

“We've probably saved between 30 and 50 animals, but there are about to be so many more in need,” she said.

What's more, the local Humane Society is strapped for cash, and Ms Lamacchia worries that Hurricane Florence is going to further sap their resources.

“This storm is going to wipe us out,” she said. “If we don't get people to step up and foster and donate, it's really going to limit our efforts.”

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