NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Hurricane Ian was the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida since 1935, causing destructive flooding, fierce winds, and many homes damaged and animals lost.

With the tropical storm, local animal shelters were hit hard. That’s why News 2 honors Agape Animal Rescue and their executive director as a Hometown Hero for their dedication to saving and helping treat animals effected by Hurricane Ian.

“A great deal of animals found themselves lost and many people picked them up and brought them to us,” said Bryant Almeida a public information officer with the Orange County Animal Services tells Local On 2. “So we reached out and tried to get as many of these animals out of here. We were starting to reach an overwhelming number and our limit of capacity before the storm even hit.”

Orange County shelter was also battling floods and not sure who to send their animals to. That’s when Agape reached out to offer their services.

“They needed urgent help and my heart just exploded with passion for this particular plea. I knew the Agape team is skilled, willing and ready,” said Agape executive director Tanya Willis. “I called the team and they were so excited to organize and we were on the road within 48 hours.”

That team and Willis picked up eight dogs and eight cats and brought them back to be housed at local shelters and foster families. Willis is fostering Ian and adopted another dog who she says may not live long due to multiple tumors.

“When we bring in animals from large scale disaster efforts, especially this time from Hurricane Ian, most animals we bring back are sick. And we know these animals will be more expensive to treat than the average dog in our community,” said Willis.

The non-profit also offers free dog training classes in Antioch in addition to responding to disaster relief efforts for saving pets.

“For them to come and put themselves at risk just to help out these animals is epic, it’s heroic,” said Almeida.