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'Hurricane Cowboys' saving animals from floods of Florence

A Virginia man leading a group of "Hurricane Cowboys" is again rescuing animals displaced by Hurricane Florence -- much the same way he did in Texas after Harvey last year.

Patrick McKann, a former bull rider and rodeo rider, and several volunteers are providing aid to help rescue horses and livestock amid the heavy flooding in South Carolina brought on by Florence.

McKann and his team are helping animals in Conway, S.C. In previous days, it also offered help in Pender County, N.C. Horses, donkeys, dogs and cats and chickens have been rescued.

"Everybody is good with cats and dogs, and we'll help them too. But we deal with large livestock -- horses, cattle, pigs," the 42-year-old McKann said. "There's a lot to do in South Carolina."

"We've been in Conway a lot the last two days," he added. "The water is steadily rising. It's really bad down here."

Recognizing the need for his truck and horse trailer, McKann went to Texas to help after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston last year. He told The State he hopes to grow his operation so his team can help again after the next disastrous storm. He said he might go to Puerto Rico to help in the ongoing effort to recover from Hurricane Maria.

The Hurricane Cowboys have set up a GoFundMe page with a $10,000 goal to assist in relief efforts.

The well-being of pets is always a concern following major storms like Florence. Hundreds of animals have were evacuated in the Carolinas and Virginia ahead of Florence, the Humane Society said.

This week, authorities dropped charges against a North Carolina woman who took in 27 cats and dogs after the storm because her shelter was not legally registered.

Authorities had charged Tammie Hedges, owner of Crazy's Claws N Paws, a donation-based rescue center, with 12 counts of practicing medicine without a veterinary license.

"[It] was a prudent decision made with the best interest of the animals in mind," District Attorney Matthew Delbridge said of the charges. "It is my desire that having ensured the safety of the animals in question, a dismissal of these criminal charges will minimize further distraction from my core mission of protecting the public."

Nearly 50 people died during and after Florence passed. Environmental concerns have been raised as flooding led to the closure of a treatment plant in Conway, sending wastewater into a nearby river.

The hurricane made landfall on Sept. 14 as a Category 1 storm. Some evacuees are still waiting to see when they can return home.


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