Whenever a natural disaster occurs, residents fleeing the chaos will often have to leave behind personal items, larger possessions and in many cases, their pets.

So when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi 12 years ago, Traci Dawson-Growshaw knew she had to be there.

Traci Dawson-Growshaw

Traci Dawson-Growshaw cleans crates at an emergency animal shelter. (Traci Dawson-Growshaw )

The Arthur, Ont., woman founded the Dog Speed Animal Rescue and Transport Society, which helped rescue a number of abandoned pets after the storm. Dawson-Growshaw said that initial trip to New Orleans left her crushed.

"The devastation was completely overwhelming for all of us that went there" she said.

Now, years of doing this kind of rescue work means she is better able to handle the damage that she finds when on these rescue missions.

At the beginning of September, she and her team went to Beaumont, Texas, to rescue several animals that had been left behind after Hurricane Harvey.

"All of it's very difficult, but once you get there and you put your mind to what your task is at hand, it becomes second nature," she said.

'Don't judge'

In many cases, Dawson-Growshaw  said, these are animals that people simply can't take with them in an evacuation, such as a turtle in a tank. She said she knows different circumstances can cause people to leave pets behind after a natural disaster.

"I don't judge these people, because I don't know," she said. "So I'm just there to help them."

Dawson-Growshaw's organization has now sent an assessment team to Florida to determine the need for their services following Hurricane Irma and they are preparing to head down there in the coming weeks if needed.