Even before the worst of Hurricane Harvey began, dog lover Betty Walter was prepared.
According to Today.com, in anticipation of the storm, the 44-year-old woman had rounded up four of her own dogs, a handful of foster dogs awaiting adoption, as well as some friends’ and neighbors’ dogs into her care. As they awaited rescue, the group stowed away in her attic in southeast Houston, hoping to avoid the rising flood waters. It was challenging to get all the pups up into the roost of her one-story home; some of them were small and easy to carry, but others — like a Great Pyrenees — required some ingenuity. Walter fashioned some makeshift stairs to get the 120-lb. dog up to safety.
With anxiety over the ever-increasing water level, her phone battery, and food and drinking water, Walter put out various messages about her situation onto social media. “I was not going to leave the dogs,” Walter told Today. “These little pets were depending on me to take care of them … I was pleading not to be forgotten.”
Nearly 14 hours later, around 3 p.m. on Sunday, help serendipitously arrived. A man named Buck Beasley, along with Jeremy Williams and Anthony Hernandez, had been out canvasing Walter’s neighborhood in Beasley’s flat-bottom boat. First they found a man and his Doberman and welcomed the pair aboard. Then they found Walter, who spoke to the crew through a window.
At first she was a bit reluctant to come onboard, cautioning the men about how many dogs she had with her.
“I was worried there was too many dogs on the boat and it would [tip] over,” Walter wrote on Facebook. “I told them I would stay behind and for them to make two trips. They said NO we are taking all and you. We had 21 dogs on this boat.”
The animals boarded the boat and the humans walked alongside them in the water; at one point Walters recalls her feet barely touching the ground the flooding was so bad. Eventually they reached Beasley’s truck and drove about 20 miles to his hometown, where it was raining but not flooded.
Beasley and his wife Amy happen to be volunteers with Bay Area Pet Adoptions, and they’d been busy rescuing pets since the storm began. They even had a structure on their property specifically built for homeless dogs, which obviously came in handy during this unique circumstance. The four people rescued along with two dozen dogs were offered a safe haven at the Beasleys’ home.
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On Monday, Walter updated her Facebook page with some good news. All of the dogs were being cared for, either with her, at foster homes, at boarding facilities or safely at home.
She updated Facebook again on Aug. 30 with some photos of her home and neighborhood.
She also updated her friends and new fans about the dogs, along with numerous postings about other needy rescue pets in the area.
Neighbors, volunteers and strangers all continue to help each other out, providing for the pets as well as clothing and shelter for Hurricane Harvey refugees. As Amy Beasley said, “How many times have you said, ‘I wish I could do something?’ … You’re not often presented with an opportunity you’re so well suited for.”
For those interested in helping Walter, she has set up a PayPal account for funds to aid the cleanup and renovations of her flooded home. It can be accessed through her Facebook page. More ways to help Hurricane Harvey pets and pet families are listed below.
How You Can Help
- A GoFundMe page has been set up by 4 Paws Farm and the I Love My Dog Team to raise donations for veterinary care, food, and bedding for animals impacted by Hurricane Harvey. To date, the fundraiser has surpassed its original goal, raising almost $50K in just a few days. Click here for more information and to donate.
- Best Friends Animal Society, the first animal rescue on the ground during Hurricane Katrina, has deployed its disaster response team to Texas to help rescue stranded animals, deliver supplies and transport displaced pets. You can donate to the disaster relief fund here.
- The ASPCA and SPCA of Texas is working to evacuate pets out of the affected ares and is helping to provide resources on pet-friendly housing to those evacuating the Houston area. The SPCA of Texas is accepting donations here.
- Austin Pets Alive! Is moving as many displaced animals as possible into its shelter and is working on adopting out the animals currently residing there, so it has more room for Harvey evacuees. The rescue is looking for financial donations and potential adopters, learn more here.
- American Humane is working to rescue animals from the flood waters, as well, and is also providing hundreds of pounds of pet food to pet owners and their animals currently displaced by Harvey. To support these efforts, click here.
- The Humane Society of the United States has several on-the-ground response teams rescuing animals and helping people with pets get to safety. It recently took the lead in organizing a flight of shelter dogs from Texas to New Jersey. Readers can donate towards the rescue effort by clicking here.