(CNN) Jennifer Middleton is riding out Hurricane Florence alongside her friends Westy, Copper, Duchess, Queenie and Braveheart.

Middleton, executive director of the Hallie Hill Animal Sanctuary, says she and her charges — about 157 dogs and 51 cats — will be staying put and weathering the storm together, even though they’re in a mandatory evacuation area along the South Carolina coast,

She says evacuation would be devastating for many of the animals, many of whom are sick, elderly or were traumatized and abused before they came to the sanctuary. It would be risky for her staff, too, if the anxious animals started to bite during the evacuation process.

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