On September 1, 2017, during a CAWS Dog Coordinators’ “Group Chat”, the idea was born! One of the participants off-handedly mentioned that she wished CAWS could do something to help the animals affected by Harvey. Thirty hours later (with the help of local news media, wonderful people of Salt Lake and surrounding communities, amazing CAWS volunteers, and financial support from our partner Best Friends Animal Society), we were on our way to Austin, Texas! Four vans, eight drivers, traveling 1,300 miles to Austin to bring as many dogs and cats as we could fit back to Utah! We wanted to save the dogs and cats that were already in the shelters prior to Harvey, as they were at risk of being euthanized to make room for the displaced pets of Harvey. The dedicated drivers drove straight through (34 hours) to Austin, only stopping for gas and snacks. They arrived in Austin at midnight on September 3rd totally exhausted. Upon arrival, the CAWS team drove directly to the Central Animal Housing Facility, set up temporarily to manage all of the homeless pets transferred from Houston and surrounding areas. The CAWS team described it as huge, with cages everywhere, organized by adult dogs, dogs with puppies, puppies without mothers, bonded dogs, old dogs, and sick dogs. And then the cats were in another (much quieter) section, but organized in much the same manner. CAWS began tagging the dogs and cats as quickly as possible, knowing they would return early in the morning, after grabbing 4 hours sleep at a local motel, to make the very long and gruesome trip home. And so on Sunday, September 4th, the vans were loaded (3 vans with dogs and 1 van with cats) and the return journey began. They had 39 cats and 98 dogs on board heading back to Utah! Throughout all of this, CAWS was posting updates on Facebook and our website. People were following our journey and making donations! The trip home took longer than traveling down to Texas. Dogs had to be walked, cages cleaned, animals fed. Can you imagine feeding 137 animals in a little over an hour and a half? Luckily, our return journey took us through Clovis, New Mexico, where one of our rescue partners, From Forgotten to Forever, volunteered to help feed and potty the dogs. It’s true what they say, “It takes a village”! And if this wasn’t enough, we stopped in Albuquerque to pick up a few more “at risk” dogs, since we still had a small number of empty crates! When the vans finally pulled into the “Utah Dog Park” the afternoon of September 5, 2017, they were met by UDP staff to include a vet, the local news media, other animal rescue groups, hundreds of volunteers, and cheers so loud you could barely hear! In the end, after some dogs and cats were turned over to other rescue groups, CAWS took in 41 dogs and 24 cats! Some of our Harvey dogs and cats have already found their forever homes, while others are still waiting. But now they are CAWS animals, and as we all know, “once a CAWS animal, always a CAWS animal”! These pups and kitties will never see the inside of a shelter again! Here are just a few of the Hurricane Harvey faces (and New Mexico stow-aways) that were saved and given a second chance because of an offhanded comment on a group chat that grew into an idea, which grew into a magnificent journey of love!
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO MADE THIS JOURNEY POSSIBLE ♥ THANK YOU TO ALL WHO MADE THIS JOURNEY POSSIBLE ♥ THANK YOU TO ALL WHO MADE THIS JOURNEY POSSIBLE♥ THANK YOU ♥ THANK YOU ♥ THANK YOU