It’s an unfortunate reality that pets are often that last concerns people have when a disaster hits.
Hurricane evacuations often result in animal shelters filling up at a time when they are most vulnerable to flooding.
Overcrowding can force shelters to euthanize many of the abandoned or lost pets.
Tony Alsup, a 51-year-old trucker from Greenback, Tennessee, is being hailed as a modern day Noah for refusing to turn his back on the dogs and cats at shelters in Hurricane Florence’s path.
When Alsup heard there were numerous animal centers dealing with overcrowding, he bought a bus to transport them to safety. “I thought, well what can I do?” he told The Washington Post. “I’ll just go buy a bus.”
Alsup drove north, stopping at five South Carolina shelters threatened by Florence: the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach, the Dillon County Animal Shelter, another in Orangeburg, and Saint Frances Animal Center in Georgetown.
Before the hurricane made landfall, Alsup was able to fill his massive, yellow school bus with 53 dogs and 11 cats, and headed south.
During his mission, he stopped at a Waffle House and took a moment to speak with The Washington Post.
“I’m like, look, these are lives too,” Alsup said while dining on waffles and grits. “Animals — especially shelter pets — they always have to take the back seat of the bus. But I’ll give them their own bus. If I have to I’ll pay for all the fuel, or even a boat, to get these dogs out of there.”
Alsup dropped off the first load of pets at a friend’s privately-run shelter in Foley, Alabama. After their long journey, the refugee animals received baths and were given warm, fluffy blankets.
He then drove on to Knoxville, Tennessee to drop off the final 40 or so dogs and cats which were distributed to local shelters.
On Monday, September 17, Alsup headed back north to Wilmington, North Carolina where he heard there are more shelters in need.
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