When storms approach and people gather their belongings and family members to evacuate, one man prepares to head directly into the advancing danger.
Why you ask?…Because who will save the shelter pets?
Tony Alsup, a trucker from Greenback, Tennessee, that’s who.
The 51-year-old animal lover had been watching the news of Hurricane Florence as it developed off the Eastern Coast of the United States. He understands first hand that the effects of these powerful storms are devastating, well beyond the storm’s passing.
Tony’s dream has always been to open his own animal shelter. But watching storm after storm decimate cities and towns, he witnessed overcrowded shelters taking in abandoned and lost animals.
Perhaps it is the truck driver in him that sees the U.S. in a more “connected” view. The miles of highway and blur of passing cars are familiar to his well-traveled soul.
He knew the best way for him to help the lonely animals would be to offer his transport services. Tony’s goal would be to bring the needy animals to vacant shelters in safe locations; but how could he do this?
His solution derived during Hurricane Harvey’s assault on Texas was simple. A $3,000, converted school bus!
With the help of his supportive family and friends, Tony removed the seats from the bus. They then fit it with the max number of cages to safely move as many fur-babies out of harms’ way as possible.
The sign on the front proudly announces the big yellow roadster as “EARS – Emergency Animal Rescue and Shelter“.
So last week, Tony loaded up his trusty bus with supplies and headed to South Carolina ahead of Florence’s landfall. He knew there was not a moment to delay.
Sharing with his Facebook followers on his T.E.A.R.S. page, (Tony’s Emergency Animal Rescue and Shelter), he kept them updated on his progress. Extremely humble, Tony hates to ask for donations but his fans remind him that they are there to support him with whatever he may need; food, foster homes, adoptions and most of all…fuel.
Since Tony set out on this heroic journey, he has saved 53 dogs and 11 cats from animal shelters in South Carolina.
His first stop was at the North Myrtle Beach Humane Society on Tuesday, the 11th. Tony pulled 5 dogs and 11 cats from the shelter to transport them to safety.
The next stops were at The Dillon County Animal Shelter and another in Orangeburg, SC for more dogs.
Early Wednesday morning, the angel Tony arrived at the Saint Frances Animal Center in Georgetown, SC. The grateful shelter praised his saintly acts on their Facebook page.
“It’s all true – Tony swooped in at 4am Wednesday morning to pick up our “leftovers” – the dogs with blocky heads, the ones with heartworm. The ones no one else will ever take. And he got them to safety. Not the most conventional evacuation, but surely the one with the most heart.”
With his 64 passengers safely strapped in, Tony finally evacuated the area as the storm loomed overhead.
In Foley, Alabama, Tony’s friend Angela anxiously awaited his arrival.
Angela Eib-Maddux, owner of Angie’s Dog House a rescue and boarding facility, had stepped up to open the doors of her facility when the initial rescue destination pulled out of the project.
Not knowing HOW their dedicated team was going to manage over 60 animals, they were willing to accept the challenge.
The kittens that arrived are now all up for adoption. The Adoption fee is $50 which includes shots, combo testing, spay/neuter, and de-worming. If you are in the area, please visit Angie’s Dog House and help these fur-babies find a loving home after all they’ve been through!
As the story spread, more and more shelters and rescue groups joined the mission, willing to welcome the needy animals into their shelters and help them get adopted.
Locations in Tennessee, Ohio, New York and Florida received a total of 30 dogs transported to their locations in the overnight hours.
It may be a lot of travelling for the animals but those comparably short car rides absolutely saved their lives. Whether it be from the dangerous storm front moving in or from life in a shelter, it is a blessing either way.
This is not the first time, or the surely the last, that Tony will be instrumental in orchestrating rescues for helpless animals.
“I volunteer my skills and money finding ways to help our neighbors. I don’t do it for recognition and notoriety. I do it because it’s the right thing to do and I cannot sit by scrolling through posts without action.”
He spent countless hours helping in Puerto Rico after the mass destruction of Hurricane Maria last year.
So dedicated to their survival and ongoing support, he donated 2 trucks to the rebuilding operations knowing just how important transport is during cleanup efforts.
The world is lucky to have people like Tony, Angela and all the other supportive rescuers giving their all to help animals.
He regularly posts and would welcome all volunteers.
“VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: A lot goes into the safe transport of an animal. We need help at every aspect of the process. Love ya’ll mean it!”
Please consider donating to their organizations.
Regardless of the weather or their humble nature, they all need our support and assistance! Thank you to the animal advocates of the world!
Remember to Adopt, Don’t Shop and Spay/Neuter!