Clark County receives dogs in wake of Hurricane Harvey


Last week, a large horse trailer arrived in the evening hours after closing at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington’s building. The trailer had made its way from Texas, and among its cargo were a dozen dogs looking for homes in the Pacific Northwest.

This particular arrival was different, though, as the dogs that showed up were there in part due to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey late last month. It was the second of such arrivals related to the hurricane that the Humane Society had received, part of efforts from agencies based around the area hit by the storm to help lost dogs back to their owners following the disaster.

A common misconception is that the dogs arriving at shelters from the hurricane area were dogs found lost during the aftermath of the storm. The dogs that arrived last week were already in shelters, rescues and sanctuaries prior to Harvey’s arrival, Kay Wlodarek, of Tall Tails Rescue and Transport, said.

The dogs arriving in Clark County were moved so that shelters in the area of the storm have ample room to hold the animals displaced due to the disaster.

“If we empty them (other shelters) they can take in the strays and try to relocate,” Wlodarek said. 

Later, she mentioned the dozen arrivals were from a sanctuary in Corpus Christi.

Animal Transportation Assistant Kelsay Apling said that on average the shelter gets about 40 dogs per month through similar transports. The Humane Society takes in a lot of population from the West Coast, specifically California, though Apling said the shelter has received animals from as far away as Hawaii and Korea.

The previous week, another organization had its hand in helping out the Harvey dogs. On Sept. 1, the Humane Society accepted 10 dogs through the Wings of Rescue program in order to do much the same thing as Tall Tails — free up space so owners are more likely to find their stray pets.

“We understand the incredible bonds forged between people and their pets, and we’re grateful that our work means that lost pets and those separated by the storms have a better chance of finding their families in Texas during this devastating time,” HSSW President Stacey Graham stated in a release. “We welcome these shelter dogs who awaited adoption in the south, and we’re excited to help them ultimately find homes here.”

After their stop in Clark County, Wlodarek and her two volunteers, Ray McBride and Philip Stockard, made the drive to Wenatchee before doubling back to Olympia where she said Tall Tails has a small division that conducts adoptions.

Wlodarek said Tall Tails had been coming to Washington for about three years, arriving roughly every six weeks. When news of Harvey materialized, she said the organization braced itself to help the shelters, mentioning that the group was able to pull 130 dogs from shelters closer to the storm.

Apart from the transportation, education on pet population control is also apart of Tall Tails outreach. Their reach stretches coast to coast, with Wlodarek mentioning operations in Maine and New York as East Coast examples.

Although the dogs that arrived last week were there due to Harvey’s impact, the mission of Tall Tails and other, similar rescues remains on making matches, even if it’s states away.

“Our program is to … work with states that have beautiful places and not enough dogs,” Wlodarek said.


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