The call went out into the social media sky Monday like the Bat Signal, from tiny Hankamer, which lies in unincorporated Chambers County, just north of Trinity Bay off the Texas coast.
“Save the fur-babies!” it read.
More than 100 animals in kennels, being sheltered temporarily in a pavilion, needed rescuing after being moved out of Tall Tails Animal Rescue, due to flooding from a nearby levee breach. Kevin Miller and Kat Tschirgi, who run Tall Tails, lost everything in the flooding and moved the animals to a nearby pavilion so they would not drown.
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As extreme coincidence, or the hand of God, say those involved, would have it, a nonprofit organization of the same name would soon come to the rescue.
“I saw the post, and contacted Patti Dawson of Dallas Dog RRR, and basically an hour later we were ready to go down there,” said Kay Wlodarek of Tall Tails Rescue and Transport, a Fort Worth-based foster pet organization. “But then what’s usually a five-hour trip, it took me, I think, 20 hours to get to them.”
Wlodarek and another Tall Tails volunteer, Phillip Stockard, left with a 40-foot trailer shortly before 8 p.m. Monday, and didn’t arrive until Tuesday at about 4 p.m. That included a six-hour stay in Huntsville, where Walker County officials advised Wlodarek not to continue, saying that too many possible routes to the Baytown area were closed or dangerous, due to high water.
“At several points, it got extremely hairy on the way down. I can’t tell you how many times we got re-routed,” Wlodarek said. “I said every prayer I had ever learned. My mind kept telling me, ‘If you don’t go, no one else is going to be there to help these animals.’ ”
When she and Stockard arrived, the 90 dogs and 18 cats they would be transporting back to Irving were going through extreme stress. They loaded up the crates and kennels and turned around, knowing that at least their new best friends wouldn’t drown.
Dawson and Dallas Dog RRR arranged for temporary access to space at MacArthur Hills Senior Living in Irving for the animals upon their arrival back in DFW, while Wlodarek and Dawson figured out what to do with them next. Austin Pets Alive is taking the 18 cats from the rescue and has been part of the rescue of hundreds of animals after Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast.
Many of the animals Wlodarek and Stockard rescued from the rising water were strays, abandoned or abused. Coupled with the stress associated with the life-threatening flooding, the long trailer ride to Irving had the animals at their wits’ end, Wlodarek said.
They arrived in Irving, as safe and sound as can be expected, at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“They are so stressed, but I think they were happy to at least not be surrounded by water,” Wlodarek said. “They’re going to need a lot of love. All we knew was, after being dumped at a shelter, or being a stray, or whatever happened to these animals to get them where they were, they did not deserve to die.”
Wlodarek said that some of the animals would need medical care, but they should all be fine eventually.
The Humane Society of North Texas took in 18 additional animals from the Houston area Tuesday as well. Humane Society shelters have taken in 40 animals displaced by Harvey, and are acccepting donations of pet food, bowls, crates, leashes, cleaning supplies and blankets.
For more information on how you can help animals in need, visit hsnt.org.
To help Dallas Dog RRR, and for updates on the 90 dogs it is sheltering after the rescue in Hankamer, visit the organization’s Facebook page. The organization is most in need of paper towels, towels, blankets, bedding for dogs and trash bags.