An Arlington-based animal rescue group took 21 dogs from a shelter in Florence, S.C., where hundreds of people have evacuated as Hurricane Dorian bears down, and brought the animals to the Washington area to be adopted.
Lucky Dog Animal Rescue evacuated the dogs from the county-run shelter in Florence. Mirah Horowitz, founder and executive director of Lucky Dog, said Tuesday that the group is also working to rescue another 40 dogs Saturday.
She said that while the shelter in Florence is inland, it has become crowded because people near the coast are evacuating and leaving animals at the shelter.
“It’s a double whammy,” Horowitz said. The complexities of helping the dogs include the logistics of driving there, putting dogs in crates and bringing them to the D.C. area., as well as making sure they have enough foster families lined up.
“It’s like Tetris of moving dogs,” Horowitz said, comparing it to the video game.
Most of the dogs will go to foster families and then be adopted at events in the D.C. region. One dog already has been adopted. The latest load included several puppies.
The group plans to get more dogs from South Carolina this weekend, then hold an adoption event at noon Sunday at the PetSmart store on Nicholson Lane in Kensington, Md.
Monday’s feat of moving dogs from South Carolina happened with little planning.
Horowitz said she was talking to her counterparts in Florence late Sunday night when the state’s governor put mandatory evacuations in place. They decided to take some animals that were being brought to the Fredericksburg area and quickly sent emails to supporters looking for families to take in the dogs.
“We had to find people to take those animals between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when they were coming,” Horowitz said. “We were getting emails up until 2 a.m. of people willing to help.”
Lucky Dog Animal Rescue is also in touch with staff at a local humane society shelter for animals in the Grand Bahamas, Horowitz said. While the staff there is safe, Horowitz said they “don’t know the situation on the animals” but heard reports of heavy flooding. She said her group has a pilot who’s “ready to do flights out of the Bahamas” to help rescue animals when it becomes safe.
Horowitz said it’s rewarding to rescue animals from areas harmed by weather events.
“You roll in with your van full of barking dogs, and many of them have pooped in their crates, and you’re greeted by people who want to help get the dogs off the van and help you,” she said. “It makes it all worth it.”
This isn’t the first time the group has stepped in for animals in disaster areas.
In 2017, it helped when Hurricane Harvey hit parts of Texas and brought animals to the D.C. area. After a van broke down while full of animals, dozens of volunteers showed up to help take them the rest of the way.
In January, Lucky Dog helped bring in supplies and rescue about 60 dogs from Puerto Rico. The animals flew on a Boeing 737 after Southwest Airlines donated a round-trip flight.