As the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey became clear across the country, Kristen Gerali knew she couldn’t sit idly by and wonder what would happen to the thousands of animals displaced by the storm.
Gerali founded her Chicago-based shelter, ALIVE Rescue, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2008 and knew the destruction in Texas would be devastating. In September, Gerali and a team of ALIVE volunteers loaded up two vans full of supplies and made their way south to bring much-needed aid to shelters and communities across Texas.
The team made stops in Austin, Houston, and Rockport, donating supplies and volunteering along the way. In every area they went to, Gerali says they saw a need for help.
“So many animals there need basic things [including] people to walk them and be with them,” says Mia Lindner, ALIVE’s director of operations. “They have nothing.”
After spending a few days volunteering at the Best Friend’s Pet Reunion Pavilion in downtown Houston, the team made their way to SARA Sanctuary in Segiun, Texas.
Because Harvey left so many family and stray animals stranded, ALIVE pulled ten dogs and five cats from the sanctuary in order to help free up space for animals being rescued after the storm.
“Because of the destruction all around that area, so many shelters are full,” says Laura Krill, an adoption coordinator at ALIVE. “[Bringing animals back from SARA] opens up a lot of space to be able to care for dogs that are displaced from the hurricane.”
With names like Guacamole, Texas, and Tracy (named after the founder of SARA), these animals will spend the next few weeks at the shelter and in foster homes across Chicago adapting to city life before going to their forever families.
And although they’ve left Texas behind, their roots won’t be forgotten—each rescued dog left the sanctuary with an ID tag that reads “hearts bigger than Harvey.”
If you’d like to make a donation, ALIVE has created an Amazon wish list to continue supporting a community in Rockport, Texas, an area hardest hit by the storm.
Images via:ALIVE Rescue
Jessica is the managing editor of PawCulture and spends her days trying not to helicopter parent her beloved shelter pup, Darwin.