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It was one year ago today we drove ourselves through the unexpected to save the lives of eight dogs in Houston Texas after Hurricane Harvey. I still occasionally get chills when I’m sitting outside at night, the harder the wind blows, the more it reminds me of last year.
On September 4th, 2017 I made the following post to Facebook:

I still haven’t had a chance to fully decompress from our rescue mission on Sunday. I will share our story later this week. It’s not just our story though, it’s also YOUR story because so many of you have opened your hearts and donated and volunteered and shared in our efforts. Without you, our 15 hour round trip journey to Baytown would not have been possible.

 

Bob, Bucee, Gus Gus, Ginger, Adjya, Bugsy, Rusty and Sassy might not have been so lucky. Some of these dogs were owner surrenders. Please don’t judge, some of their families have lost everything. Some of these dogs may have owners and we want to get them home to their families.

 

I can’t even explain how hard it was to see an owner surrender. I can’t even explain some of the devastation we saw. I’m also really troubled with the actions of Houston SPCA. But I can tell you, I gained a wonderful new friend who runs Chip N Snip, Tiffany, and her team of wonderful volunteers.

 

I’ve also seen a group of animal lovers come together here in Austin for Austin Lost and Found Pets. I plan on helping them as much as I can in the future with their temporary shelter. They do need fosters, and I can tell you these dogs are wonderful.

 

One thing is for darn sure, Texans don’t wait around for someone to help them, they jump right in and help each other. Animals, neighbors, people who we have never met and may never see again.

 

Be kind, spread love, and when you can, lend a hand.

I think the craziest thing about Harvey was how it just circled Houston, not moving, just beating down on the city for days on end. Here in Austin, a mere three hours away, we enjoyed sunny days while our fellow Texans were in the middle of a Category 4 Hurricane.
One of the organizations I volunteer from had gotten a call asking from an incredible rescue in Houston. They were asking if some of their dogs could be taken in and saved. If you think about it, Houston already has a very high kill rate, and then with the storm displacing both people and pets, there was no room anywhere. The problem was, there were dogs to save but no one to get them…
… so of course, I had the idea to rent a van and drive to Katy, Texas to meet this angel of a rescuer to pick up some dogs and bring them back here to Austin. My husband pretty much goes along with my crazy rescue ideas now. The only requirement is I have to tell him where I’m going and what time I think I’ll be home (you know, in case I get kidnapped or something.)
Around 11 pm that night I grabbed a few neighbors, and we arrived at Austin Lost and Found Pets’ temporary shelter to gather supplies for the next day. We had no idea how many dogs we were picking up or what size. We needed crates, slip leashes and bowls.
The following morning we arrived at the van rental place when it opened. I am pretty sure I said we were moving a couch… sorry U-Haul Moving & Storage at Slaughter Lane, but it was for such a good cause! I hope you forgive us. We dropped my car off at home and started our trip to Katy.
On our way down it was pretty intense. The flooding was severe and got worse the closer we got to Houston. The Army National Guard was driving in huge packs with their vehicles. Tons of civilians and their boats headed to the city of Houston, and to the coast. We also saw trailers loaded with hay and supplies.

I will admit, I was cutting some onions (see also: tearing up) on the way down and back, seeing all of these people banning together was incredible if only we did that outside of times of crises as well.

We were to meet a woman named “Tiffany” in the Buc-ees parking lot in Katy. If you have never been to Buc-ees, I’m sorry. You should add it to your bucket list.
Most dog rescue efforts go like this. “Hi, is this so and so? Hey, it’s me, the one who needs to pick up the dog(s) from you. Right, so I’m at Exit… oh, heck, I just went by a sign, hold on. Okay, so you want to meet at Exit 30? Great, I’m at 23. No, two-three, no, TWO-THREE. Hello? Are you still there? Darn, I lost you.” “Hi, yes, it’s me again. Okay, back of the parking lot, Exit 31, look for the car with all the dog stickers on it. See you soon.”

Most of these adventures go down in parking lots.

I digress, so we’re driving along in this giant cargo van, and its top speed is probably 63 miles an hour. Also, Ford forgot about any insulation (and shocks), so it’s a bit like driving in an enclosed tractor.
We find Buc-ees, and I see the ladies room followed by a metric ton of Gatorade and iced coffee because I think I was running on about 3 hours of sleep at that point.
At first, we found one SUV, and then we moved to a quieter spot in the back, and within 15 minutes we had kids and dogs, and crates being assembled and water and paperwork, it was awesome. We didn’t know how many dogs we were going to be picking up, and we packed for about two hundred. I think everyone figured we were going to fit as many as we could and bring them back to Austin.
Eight! We saved eight. There was one particularly tearful goodbye. A beautiful young woman who had lost her home and was moving in with a family who couldn’t take her dog. I promised her we would make sure her dog was safe. We also had a Lab, a bobtailed Pitbull, a Malinois mix, a few Chihuahuas, a sizeable scruffy terrier/hound mix, a pocket Pitbull mix and a GSD mix.
And before you judge someone for having to let go of their pet, consider how it must feel to lose everything you own including your home, your vehicle, all of your possessions taken away from you and then having to give up your best friend because you wanted them to have a roof over their head.
Considering how well the dogs slept on the way back to Austin they were exhausted and maybe a little bit relieved. I am always amazed at how resilient some dogs are. I had about one minute to assess each dog and speak to the person who had them in their possession and then had to load them up for our trip home. It was not an ideal situation, but my primary goal was to have each dog in the AC with fresh water and safely contained for our journey to safety.
I ended up fostering two of the dogs, the Chihuahuas because I am a closet Chihuahua lover and they have always been one of my favorite breeds. Small and mighty!
I am humbled by the people in my life and how they continually step up and help me help when I can. I made a call for donations that I could bring to Austin Pets Alive! to help them process the pets that were transported in from Houston. Our clients and friends happily picked up extra bowls, crates, beds, food, cat litter and paper towels. When it came to renting the cargo van, I said: “I can donate boots on the ground if Y’all want to help me!” And of course, they did. I can only do what I do because of the army of support behind me. 
There were a lot of heroes during and after Harvey. Some wore uniforms, and some didn’t. There’s one thing for sure though, Texans help Texans, and we don’t wait for help to arrive.

Pets Crave Love™

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