NEWINGTON â€“ Twenty-two dogs arrived at the Connecticut Humane Societyâ€™s Newington shelter this week after a long trip from Houston, Texas, where they were rescued from shelters devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
The pups underwent medical evaluations and treatment while under a 48-hour quarantine. CHS staff expects to begin opening up adoptions sometime next week.
â€śTheyâ€™ve been through a lot,â€ť Executive Director Gordon Willard said Tuesday after a busy morning.
A rescue team of trained professionals was deployed to the Lone Star State last week and left Houston Friday with the dogs in tow. They arrived back in Newington Monday night around 9 p.m.
â€śTheyâ€™re doing well after a very long truck ride,â€ť Willard added. â€śI think theyâ€™re enjoying the cooler weather. Theyâ€™re getting a chance to walk the grounds, stretch their legs; weâ€™re creating a bond with them.â€ť
Behaviorist Rebecca Meyer was among the staff who welcomed the animals in that night and got to know them throughout the week.
â€śA year ago we dealt with the flood dogs from the Carolinas, after Hurricane Matthew,â€ť Meyer said.
Treatment in both instances included walks outside and belly rubs.
The majority of dogs in this weekâ€™s group are shepherd and bull-terrier mixes, some of which were suffering from heartworm disease and other ailments upon arrival. All were isolated from the other animals at the shelter for a period of two days, a safety measure required by state law.
Local residents will be anxious to open their homes to these southern transplants, said Willard, who is asking people to be patient.
â€śI realize everybody is going to be interested in these animals in particular, but we want to stress that we wonâ€™t be rushing the process. We want people to understand what their needs are and make sure they will fit into their home.â€ť
He also emphasized that pets that were displaced from their homes are not part of the group, which came from an animal shelter in Galveston, Texas.
â€śThese animals were already given up and in need of homes. They are not lost pets whose owners will be looking for them once they get reestablished themselves.â€ť
A trained disaster-relief team was deployed over the weekend to help teams in Texas care for displaced pets and reunite them with their families.
â€śWeâ€™re gearing up to send a second team next week,â€ť Willard explained. â€śWeâ€™re doing what we have to do. The Houston ASPCA and Red Cross are heavily burdened right now. No one knows how big this is, but itâ€™s big.â€ť
Luckily, a national adoption day event Aug. 19 left the CHS with ample space in its shelters for the Texan dogs.
People interested in adopting are asked to check its website for updates, at CTHumane.org.
Meanwhile, Turnpike Motors Auto Body in Newington spent the week collecting medical supplies, food and other items for pets affected by the hurricane, teaming up with Connecticut Emergency Animal Response Service (EARS) and Farmington Police Department. Donations to the Animal Relief Drive will depart the Farmington Polo Grounds Thursday in a rescue convoy. Turnpike Motors alone donated $2,000 worth of medical supplies, from gauze and suture to blankets and bandages.
â€śWeâ€™re huge animal advocates here,â€ť Controller Marty Smith said. â€śIf youâ€™re a successful business, itâ€™s important to do whatâ€™s right.â€ť
She rescued her own shepherd-lab mix Zoe from New York City after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
â€śItâ€™s heartbreaking to see these animals being abandoned during the flooding,â€ť Smith said. â€śI would adopt all of them if I could. People can fend for themselves but animals need us to take care of them.â€ť
To make a donation to help pets affected by Hurricane Harvey, visit https://secur.give2gether.com/projects/teamwork-in-texas/.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.