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PAWS to the Rescue

In 2017, PAWS rescued over 120 dogs and puppies, and approximately 200 cats and kittens.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, they rescued both cats and dogs, and were able to adopt out all the cats, and all but three of the fifteen dogs.

On August 25, 2017 Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, hit the the Texas Gulf. The aftermath of the storm is still wreaking havoc for many residents. People lost homes, schools, and entire neighborhoods. Those who were able, took what they could and were evacuated. Many tried to take their animals, but with many shelters unable to take people and their animals, thousands of pets were surrendered or left behind.

On Monday, August 28, the community of St. George decided those who worked with local rescues would pack up and head to Houston. Carol Peckham from Lovin’ Arms Pet Center, and Andi Sykes, both well known in the community for their rescue efforts, began collecting donations of dog food, cat food, crates, bowls, and everything else they needed, and headed to Houston. PAWS (Providing Animals with Support) was not far behind. PAWS began clearing their kennels, and their rescues were adopted or placed into foster care. The kennels were left empty, leaving every kennel open to accept a Hurricane Harvey rescue animal.

Carol, the original Founder of PAWS, had also gone to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When Carol and Andi arrived, they delivered supplies and helped with rescue efforts. Four PAWS volunteers and staff, along with Anita DeLelles from Woof Center for Active Pets headed out to bring as many animals to St. George as possible.

“We loaded up two vans and headed out. We knew we would only be able to bring back 15-20 animals that were stranded in shelters, but that would leave more than fifteen spots that would be open to someone’s pet,” says Lulu Hart, operations manager for PAWS. “All of the rescues we picked up and brought back were already in a shelter prior to the hurricane, or were surrendered by their owners who knew they could not keep them. No animals were brought back who had the possibility of someone out there looking for them.”

Hart continued, “We left on Saturday morning, drove straight through, slept for seven hours, and made our way into Austin Sunday at approximately 11:00 AM. When we first walked in the doors, we all just froze. What we walked into was emotionally draining — crate after crate of sad, anxious faces. We were given instructions on how to go around and see what rescues we could take. It was not easy. Our first instinct was, ‘We will take them all.’ But there were hundreds. We went by each kennel, looked at each card, and started writing our names on them. Two hours later, we had picked out thirteen dogs, and headed over to the cats. PAWS takes in many local cats. We currently house forty adult cats, and this year our kitten season has been overwhelmingly high. We knew we were limited on how many cats we could bring back. Fortunately, a Kansas-based rescue called Alley Cats had pulled most of the rescue cats,” Hart said.

Lulu kept going back inside and returning with just one more dog, knowing they would somehow make space. The rest of the team had the same idea. PAWS volunteer, Anne Hackett spotted a grey cat who stole her heart and gathered her up. Anita found a little black kitten she called Boo. Both were scooped up and taken to the vans. They packed up, almost ready to head out, and then came Ebert. He was a Blue Nose Pit Bull who was so sweet, but so sad. Of course, they made room for him, and once again, they were ready. Then Faith, the head of the Austin Live operation, came out and said, “Hey, you left one dog. Your name is on her crate.” With two vans already filled to capacity, they said, “Okay, make rooms, guys.” And HoneyBee was loaded up with the rest.

They headed back to St. George, knowing they faced a twenty-hour, non-stop drive. To their surprise, the rescues came through it all very well.

They were greeted at Lovin’ Arms Pet Center by the entire PAWS rescue team who rose to the occasion and started unloading. Each rescue was unloaded, walked, watered, fed, examined, vaccinated, microchipped, bathed, and loved. They ran through the store, some doing a little shoplifting along the way!

Then one by one, they were loaded into cars with volunteers and hand-delivered to PAWS, where the task of vetting took place. There were some pretty scared, skinny animals. The volunteers knew love and security were most important, so they played with them, cleaned up after them, and held them. DeeDee Berryman took Ebert, renamed Beau, home to foster with Pam Simons; it was the first time he had lifted his head.

After vetting, the task of adopting began. They knew there were three or four animals they needed to hold back because of health issues, but today, all but three Hurricane Harvey rescues have been adopted. The others are currently being vetted, and are making great improvements.

For more information on PAWS or how to adopt, call (435) 688-9748.

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