Jim Pierce got a call late at night with a plea for help that he couldn't ignore.
Pierce, the new director of the Maryland SPCA, was told that 11 adult dogs and nine puppies who had been rescued from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico were on a plane bound for the U.S.
Could his shelter give the dogs a temporary home?
"We try to be good neighbor whenever there's a need," Pierce said of his conversation with a staff member of the Humane Society of the United States.
"Animals rescued from areas where there's been a natural disaster always require extra care and attention from our staff. The dogs were traumatized and very scared. It was one of those situations where we had to drop everything."
Nonetheless, Pierce said, shortly after midnight staff members were at the shelter to welcome the dogs, and many stayed throughout the night. They fed and bathed their new guests, who had been evacuated from an area surrounding the capital of San Juan.
The next morning, all 20 dogs were examined by a veterinarian. Though most appeared healthy and were placed with foster families, some had symptoms indicating they might be infected with ringworm, an infectious fungus that causes patchy, bald spots to appear in the dogs' coats. Those dogs are being treated at the shelter.
Pierce estimated that all the dogs would be eligible for adoption in about a month.
If that weren't enough, he said, the shelter still is hosting about half a dozen dogs who were rescued from Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Of the 11 dogs the SPCA initially received, five or six have been adopted — in many cases, by their foster families.