As droves of vehicles headed out of Florida, a team of rescuers from Illinois headed directly into harm’s way to save shelter animals in need. Sheridan Pierard, president of the non-profit shelter, Thorse Dog Rescue, explained to Shelter Me why the decision was made to journey to the area which was about to be hit by Hurricane Irma:
When we heard about the strength and potential impact of the hurricane, we couldn’t stand idly by and do nothing for those animals. We couldn’t stand the thought of dogs potentially drowning, being battered by 150+mph winds and rain, or entire shelters full of animals potentially having to be humanely euthanized because of the animals not being able to be kept safe from the hurricane. We contacted shelters there and offered our services, and several were in dire need – so we quickly got things organized and were on the road by midnight Thursday.
Sheridan and another shelter volunteer drove directly down to Florida, stopping only for gas, and met up with Florida shelter officials in the middle of the night on Friday to begin the transfer of homeless pets.
Sheridan told Shelter Me:
Entering a state that was mass evacuating to avoid a deadly hurricane was not something we took lightly. However, Roosevelt said “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” We put out fears aside and answered God’s calling to us to go save these animals in need.
The rescuers undoubtedly saved lives on their journey – according to the team, one of the Florida shelters had only outdoor kennels, with a flimsy tin roof which likely would have blown away when the hurricane force winds hit. Though the facility was inadequate, the rescuers noted that it was obvious that the shelter cared about the animals in their care – they were simply lacking the resources to keep them safe from the monster storm which was headed directly to Florida.
Thanks to the Thorse Dog Rescuers, six dogs, a mother cat and several kittens (still nursing!) were loaded into the transport vehicle and driven north to the shelter in Oswego, Illinois. The caravan arrived on Sunday afternoon and was met by other volunteers who were on hand to help the relocated pets settle comfortably into the shelter.
Thorse Dog Rescue opened in July of 2016 and they are called “the next generation of dog shelters,” because of their future based thinking. Rather than just housing and finding homes for animals, they aim to change the way people think of dog shelters. They have inviting, friendly facilities so that people feel welcomed and happy and the dogs are comfortable. In this and other ways, it becomes more likely that people will adopt dogs in need rather than purchase them from pet stores or breeders. Thorse Dog Rescue also educates visitors about crucial animal welfare issues such as pet overpopulation and puppy mills and are currently setting up programs to speak at schools and businesses about these issues.
Follow the Thorse Dog Rescue on Facebook here.
(All images provided by Thorse Dog Rescue)