Hurricane Irma 2017

As Hurricane Irma’s approach to southwest Florida became imminent, we prepared and braced for the worst. Trees and vines were trimmed to minimize damage. With nowhere to evacuate due to Irma targeting the entire state and beyond, the animals were secured in their own enclosures.

Irma ripped through Naples on September 10, 2017, as a category 3 hurricane. Wind gusts topped 140mph, supporters from around the world hoped Irma would spare us. Founders Nancy and Kent Smith, Executive Director Deanna Deppen and Senior Volunteer Michelle Murphy stayed at Shy Wolf Sanctuary to protect and care for the animals and property.

“We walked the perimeter and checked on the animals about every 20 minutes during the hurricane,” stated Deanna Deppen. “It was a rough ride.” Animals had to be moved mid-storm because some of the seniors were confused and wouldn’t seek shelter. More vines and shutters were cut off fences to prevent loss of the perimeter fence while the storm raged the entire time…never seeing the calm of the eye.

Miraculously, all resident and guest animals survived. An additional 16 animals were sheltered during Irma. The large trees on the property were lost and the animal enclosures suffered significant damage. Cleanup is underway and volunteers are needed to help with efforts. Once the debris is removed from the property, a fencing company will be needed to repair damaged enclosures.

“We are asking individuals and organizations to come volunteer and help clean up the sanctuary. Recovering from this disaster is a big project and will be both expensive and ongoing. We are grateful to our community and supporters around the world who care about our animals.” Deppen also stated, “After evacuating with the wildfires in April and now surviving Hurricane Irma, we desperately need to make the move to a new and bigger sanctuary.”

New Sanctuary:

Shy Wolf Sanctuary is diligently looking for a new larger property of at least 20 acres in Collier or Lee County to remain near their volunteer support. The animals are currently housed on 2.5 acres of private property with no buildings to shelter them in a natural disaster. New design plans include hurricane rated buildings that would also function as fire and hurricane shelters. Animals would be locked down in secured enclosures. There will be extra kennels and space for temporary kennels or crates to house additional animals, whether it be First Responders working the natural disaster or community members evacuating an emergency situation. Achieving this goal of building the new Sanctuary will enable dedicated caretakers to remain on the property and provide constant care to residents and guests. Shy Wolf Sanctuary believes all lives are precious and wishes to serve as a greater resource to the community.


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