Hurricane canines to the rescue

Pasado’s Safe Haven takes in dogs displaced by Harvey

Kelly Sullivan

Five pets have found their way from Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters to Monroe.

The dogs traveled nearly 2,300 miles from where they were displaced during the natural disaster that killed dozens of people and forced thousands to leave their homes. Many of those people now have nothing and are struggling to survive, said Pasado’s Safe Haven executive director Laura Henderson.

A trained team of her staff headed to Texas in September and flew the rescues back to the animal sanctuary. In Houston, the group met up with a local agency that had collected and helped house many of the pets who were separated from their families as a result of the hurricane, she said.

“In circumstances like this, those shelters try and hold the pets for 30 days to give the owners a chance to get back on their feet before they come for their pets,” Henderson said. “In many cases these are people who their lost homes, possessions and sometimes everything.”

Dogs Harvey, Houston and Conroe each have their own yard and cabin at Pasado’s. Henderson said Irma and Dallas are still recovering from exposure to potential toxic substances in the floodwaters. They are set up in Ruth’s Healing Barn. Both are excited to see visitors through the glass door.

“All five of these dogs are just the most friendly, adorable, big-hearted dogs you could meet,” Henderson said.

The next step is to find homes for each one. Henderson said a couple are already spoken for and many have already received a good number of inquiries.

“If you think about it, they were in a shelter and then got on an airplane, and now they are here in the Pacific Northwest at Pasado’s, and then of course they are starting on the next chapter of their lives with new families,” Henderson said.

She said the network of agencies and laws that address rescue efforts for pets displaced during a natural disaster has improved dramatically since Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2005. Back then, shelters weren’t required to take animals.

It resulted in very heartbreaking decisions, Henderson said. People had to leave their pets, or stay home and face the disaster. Now, facilities must make room for families and their pets, Henderson said.

Henderson said there is some urgency to finding homes for the rescues. The more quickly the five dogs are adopted, the sooner Pasado’s can make room for incoming animals, she said.

In addition to the efforts in Texas, Pasado’s just sent about 1,300 pounds of dog and cat food to Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria just weeks ago.

Henderson said the sanctuary was able to send the goods to the unincorporated U.S. territory in a container shipment. The supplies are probably headed there now, she said.

Often in these situations people are struggling so much that the animals can be forgotten, Henderson said. The haul was pulled from a large donation gifted by Unified Grocers. She said Pasado’s staff decided they had enough to spare.

“These disasters we watch on TV feel so far removed from us here, but we have these animals locally in our community,” Henderson said. “Anyone who has adopted a dog locally can feel like they are part of this.”

Pasado’s is hosting the October Shindig and Sanctuary Tour noon to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21. The cost is $25 per person, or $75 for a family. For more information on the event or animals, visit


Photos by Kelly Sullivan: Houston plays outside at Pasado’s Safe Haven in Monroe on Friday, Oct. 6. He was one of five dogs sanctuary staff rescued from Texas that were displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Irma is recovering in Ruth’s Healing Barn at Pasado’s Safe Haven. Conroe plays outside at Pasado's Safe Haven on Friday, Oct. 6.


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