Woman Rides Out Hurricane Irma in Jail Full of Animals

Posted by Stacey Venzel
animals in jail cells
All photos via Monroe County Sheriff's Office Animal Farm/Facebook

If ever there was a guardian angel for animals, it's Jeanne Selander: the caretaker and general queen-of-all-trades who runs the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Animal Farm.

The animal farm, located in Stock Island, just north of Key West, is home to over 250 animals and provides a haven for animals which have been abandoned, abused, confiscated, or donated.

In preparation for Hurricane Irma, Farmer Jeanne transported the animals from the farm and hauled them into empty jail cells.

Animals in their jail cells

Posted by Jeanne Selander on Saturday, September 9, 2017

I first met Jeanne when she filled in on my community softball team in Marathon, FL, the middle island in the Florida Keys. Our team lost every game that season, but I got to meet the woman who ran the sheriff's animal farm!

hurricane prep
"Trash cans filled with fresh water for the animals."

While the inmates were evacuated days prior to the storm, Jeanne had her hands full crating up animals and settling them into their windowless jail cells. She had the help of Detectives David Cruz and Spencer Curry, Cruz's wife, Jan, as well as other officers from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

reptile crates
"Reptiles in crates in a holding cell."

Jeanne joked that if anyone wanted to store valuables, they should store them in the reptile room, as staff were already saying they planned to stay clear of that area. Someone even called the transformed jail "Jeanne's Ark."

animal evacuation
"Staging the ark."

Without electricity, Jeanne cared for the furry and scaly "inmates" by way of a flashlight, making sure they had ample food and water while they rode out the storm.

mo the sloth
"Here's a little break from the madness. Many have asked about our most famous resident, Mo the sloth. Mo is taking it easy and enjoying this beautiful day - the calm before the storm."

Local residents and animal farm supporters anxiously awaited a Facebook post from Farmer Jeanne saying she and the animals were okay. And on September 13, we finally got news that everyone made it through the storm. I can't wait to see photos of my favorite farm resident, Kramer the emu, alive and well!

horse trailer
"Staging the horses in loading dock before taking them up to holding cells via elevator. That was fun - LOL."

Having lived through Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin, I know what it's like to experience Mother Nature in such a terrifying and devastating way. However, unlike me, Jeanne had time to evacuate, but she chose to stay and ensure the safety of her animals.


The farm and jail fared relatively well through the storm, but like most every structure in the Keys, it has some damage that will require repair.

If you'd like to make a donation to help the animal farm rebuild, please contact the Monroe County Sheriff's Office at 305-293-7300. Please note that the electricity is still down and may take weeks to be restored. Consider marking your calendar next month to call and make a donation.

All photos via Monroe County Sheriff's Office Animal Farm/Facebook.

Leave an encouraging message for Farmer Jeanne and the animal farm staff in the comments below!

WATCH NOW: How to Prepare Your Pet for an Emergency

oembed rumble video here

Woman Rides Out Hurricane Irma in Jail Full of Animals