WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Officials are calling it animal cruelty like they've never seen before.
As Hurricane Irma’s outer bands inch closer to Florida, animal control officers said they are hustling to rescue abandoned animals.
RELATED: Florida preps for storm as Hurricane Irma | Football games in Florida canceled ahead of Hurricane Irma | Florida air travel shuts down ahead of Hurricane Irma | This is what Hurricane Irma looks like from space
And these aren't pets who are just being left inside, Director of Animal Care Diane Suave said.
“They are left in a yard, in a pen they cannot escape from or tethered to trees or poles,” she said.
Palm Beach County Animal Care reports animal control officers have rescued 49 dogs and two cats in the last 48 hours.
“Even a tiny bit of sand can hurt an animal when it’s traveling through 100-plus mph winds,” Sauve said.
Animal control officers were slowly pulled off the road at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Sauve said once winds reach a sustained 35 mph, no officers will be permitted to rescue animals.
“We are asking the public, if it is safe, consider sheltering any animals you see left outside,” she said.
Both Sauve and State Attorney Dave Aronberg said they promise to prosecute anyone who left their animals outside to fend for themselves during Hurricane Irma.
“This is a prime example of animal cruelty,” Aronberg said. “We will find you, and we will prosecute you.”
Sauve said officials will use every paper trail imaginable to track down animal cruelty offenders.
“It’s unconscionable,” she said. “We will not stand for it here in Palm Beach County.”
Hurricane Supply Kit Checklist | Things to know before the storm | Preparations for your pets | Power outage maps & resources | Know your evacuation zone | Price gouging: How to protect yourself and report it | Insurance protection: Video tape home inventory | Tampa Bay sandbag locations | Find a hurricane shelter near you | Hurricane Irma Emergency Phone Numbers | Evacuations underway | Closures and Alerts | Storm Surge Map