As Florence prepared to land during the past week, a network of rescuers was gearing up and moving pets out of harm’s way. It’s one thing for individuals to move their animals to safety — most people have a dog or cat or two, but for shelters the work is much more difficult.
Some shelters have offered reduced adoption fees in hopes that their animals will get adopted and taken to safety. Others have coordinated with shelters in safer areas to get their critters into places less affected by the storms.
But even when there are facilities and people ready to welcome needy pets, there’s still a crucial element missing: transport.
Tony Alsup, animal lover that he is, first volunteered to move shelter animals during Hurricane Harvey. Since he was a trucker, he offered to pick up some dogs and move them to a different shelter.
There was a mix-up, and the shelter thought he meant he’d use his semi-truck to move a large number of animals, and not just the few that he could fit in the cab with him.
“You’ve got to be very careful what you say on social media man, but I’m a man of my word,” Alsup said. “If I give you my word, it’s gonna get done.”
So he did what any logical person would do: He bought a vehicle big enough to be able to transfer large numbers of animals. “So I said, you know what, why don’t I just go buy a bus?”
After shelling out over $3,000 for a retired school bus, he was set.
Since Hurricane Harvey, he’s helped pets in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. With Hurricane Florence impending, he made it to North Myrtle Beach, Dylan, Georgetown and Orangeburg, and transported 64 animals to safety in Alabama.
Many times the dogs Alsup transfers are the harder-to-place pups. “It’s so easy for people to adopt the small pets and the cuties and the cuddly,” he said, according to WFAA. “We take on the ones that deserve a chance even though they are big and a little ugly. But I love big dogs, and we find places for them.”
The bus is not a particularly pleasant place. It’s hot, cramped and smelly, but Alsup just keeps on truckin’.
“I love it,” Alsup said. “People don’t believe me, they say it’s got to be barking crazy. But no. They know I’m the Alpha dog and I’m not here to hurt them.”
Now one of the groups he helped set up a GoFundMe page and is trying to raise money for him so that some of his costs can be covered and his bus can be updated.
“Tony was a Godsend, out of the blue, he just stepped up and asked how he could help! It’s what he does,” the GoFundMe page reads.
“Now we’d like to help Tony! The bus has no air conditioning… Tony and the animals have been driving through the night to avoid the heat and the already stressed animals are scared, confused and HOT! We’d like to raise funds for a generator and window air conditioner and to help cover gas and expenses.”
“Rescuers are doing the tough part, they are in the shelters saving lives, networking through the night to save as many as possible, and heartbroken for the ones left behind. The heartache is real and it takes a toll on those gifted with a rescue heart. Please help us support them and help us support Tony’s mission.”
Thanks to shelters and animal lovers working together, many critters have been moved to safer places and given a better chance at finding their forever homes.
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