Supported by

The Atlantic Selects

This Couple Rescues Animals From Hurricanes

Oct 15, 2019 | 831 videos
Video by Shawn Bannon

When Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina in 2018, Jay Yontz and Kristin Hartness “saw a lot of really morbid, somber things.” The couple own an animal sanctuary, and during the hurricane’s catastrophic flooding, they risked their lives to save dozens of creatures. Among those saved was a litter of puppies trapped on a porch. But, as Yontz and Hartness will tell you, the majority of animals that perish in hurricanes aren’t pets—they’re farm animals, abandoned and left to drown in factory farms. Shawn Bannon’s short documentary Hurricane Heroes follows Hartness and Yontz as they embark on a series of breathtaking rescue operations to save the animals society has left behind.

According to Bannon, the official number of farm animals that died during Florence is 3.4 million poultry birds and 5,500 pigs. “But most people I talked to said it was a lot higher than that,” he told me. “From what I’ve heard, a lot of farm animals were washed away by the hurricane, so they were not included in this number.”

The fact that many of the animals rescued were bred for consumption does not influence the couple’s perspective on the necessity of their work.

“Just because someone doesn’t have the same attachment to pigs, doesn’t mean [pigs] don’t feel the same things your dog does,” Yontz says in the film.

“They want to live, they want to love, and they want to be loved,” Hartness adds.

The couple would know—they adopted two of the pigs they rescued. Today, Flo and Jax are happy pets that live on the farm at Ziggy’s Refuge.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to

Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.