I can understand why someone would leave behind a helpless animal, which they’ve sworn to care for, to face the storm of the century alone. It’s the same reason why there are murders, why children are abused, why the elderly are exploited. Mankind is cursed with a certain quotient of unfathomably callous degenerates; they’ve been with us always and always will be. Accept that needless horror occurs every day in the world, just because.

What I can’t understand is why any of those degenerates would tether their pet to something with widespread flooding and 120-mph winds descending. If you’re going to abandon your dog or cat to its fate, let it roam free so that it has a fighting chance to find a safe place to hide. Leaving it out in the elements to wonder where its family went as it’s sheared to pieces by the wind and rain is the cruelest thing you could do.

At the barest, barest minimum, anyone who’s guilty of this should never own a pet again.

Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control director Dianne Sauve said the agency recovered roughly 40 dogs in the days before Irma made landfall in Florida. Some were tied up, others were in pens or in enclosed yards, unable to escape.

She said such abandonment is one of the worst things someone can do to their pet, saying “There is absolutely no excuse for doing that.”…

Sauve said the agency will pursue felony animal cruelty charges if they are able to gather enough evidence and find and identify a pet’s owners, which can be difficult.

The agency’s shelter also took in about 40 other cats and dogs relinquished by their owners. Sauve said that’s not unusual, but the number of surrenders is higher than in previous storms.

Surrendering the animal is also unthinkable to me but that shows concern for its welfare, at least. Paint me a picture where it would be understandable to drive away and leave it behind at home with a major natural disaster impending. Whose car is packed so full of valuables that it can’t accommodate a dog or a cat in a carrier? The only explanation, I think, is that a small but meaningful number of pet owners view their pets purely as property, not as creatures that feel fear or affection. If you’re of that mindset and have to bug out of town and leave the TV behind, sure, you’ll leave the dog behind too. The concept of sociopathy is the closest normal people can probably come to getting a handle on this.

Reminder: There is no law anywhere that requires pet adoption. There’s no tax on pet-free households even in the bluest jurisdictions. If you’re not prepared to save your dog’s or cat’s life when it’s within your power to do so, consider skipping the trip to the shelter.