Story by Lilly A. Fowler | Photos by Karen Ducey for Crosscut
SEATTLE — As the sun emerged and the water began to recede in parts of flood-ravaged Houston, 35 large dogs from Texas flew to Seattle on Wednesday, Aug. 30 hoping to find a new home.
The dogs had been in two animal shelters in San Antonio: Animal Care Services and Animal Defense League of Texas. The animals were moved out of the shelters and flown to the Pacific Northwest to make room for pets impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Dogs, cats and other animals back in Texas would then be able to move into the cleared-out shelters where they would wait to be reunited with their families.
It had been a long day for the shelter animals. Pilots with Sierra West Airlines said the dogs had been loaded onto their Metroliner at about 8 a.m. on Wednesday. After making a pit stop in Utah, they landed at Boeing Field, about five miles south of downtown Seattle, at approximately 3:40 p.m.
Then, one by one, dogs of varying breeds housed in portable crates were transported off the plane and placed into vans operated by Seattle Humane and PAWS. Most stayed silent as volunteers surrounded them and cooed. One dog named Liam wore a Coca-Cola bandana.
But the star was Sandy, a female, tan dog who is about 6 to 7 years old. She was the only dog let out of her crate by a volunteer with Wings of Rescue, an organization that provides air transport for pets in need of shelter. Cathi Perez, who helps board animals for Wings of Rescue, said the director of Animal Care Services had personally taken care of Sandy and had written a letter about her to help ensure she would find a good home here.
Fourteen dogs were placed with PAWS; 21 dogs went to Seattle Humane. Amanda Anderson, a public relations specialist with Seattle Humane, said the dogs would be available for adoption within 24 to 48 hours. The animals at PAWS, or Progressive Animal Welfare Society, are eligible for temporary foster care or adoption. The dogs have already been spayed and neutered, according to Laura Follis of PAWS.
Shelley Nixon, a 56-year-old nurse, was waiting on the tarmac to try to gain a glimpse of the pets. She said she was scouting for a pet for a coworker who is interested in possibly adopting a labradoodle or dachshund. She was also there to spread the word about the newly arrived dogs to others.
“It’s in my blood to want to help animals,” Nixon said, noting that she at one point had had six rescue cats. Nixon says she has only one left now — Mike — who is sick with cancer.
Volunteers have also transported animals to California and New Jersey. According to the Humane Society of the United States, volunteers are attempting to make space for at least 1,200 to 1,500 dogs and cats in Texas.
Dogs aren’t the only ones coming from Texas. Cats from the state are expected to arrive Thursday or Friday and a truck with more animals is expected to drive in next week.