Rescuing 18 Homeless Dogs in 19 Hours

Houston streets are home to 1.2 million homeless animals (according to the city shelter BARC). Shelters and rescue groups are overflowing; 85,000 animals are euthanized annually due to full shelters and the remaining are left to fend for themselves on the streets. Thus, Houston has a significant (and growing) population of stray dogs. Why? Many are abandoned by their owners, leaving them to roam the streets and fend for themselves. Because most of these stray and abandoned dogs are not neutered or spayed, countless litters of puppies are born every year. Similar to their homeless parents, these puppies will be forced to survive without basic veterinary care, nutrition, or the attention necessary for any animal to grow up healthy and happy.

Because of this, Paddy’s Paws started connecting homeless Texas dogs with foster homes and pet adopters in Wisconsin. Surprisingly, many shelters in Wisconsin are in need of dogs—puppies tend to move quickly and rescue shelters partner with other states to find animals in need of homes. Lola’s Lucky Day has partnered with rescues in Wisconsin to find homes for dogs, ensure their health, and transport them to their new home.

I grew up wanting to be a veterinarian; our family dogs always came to us from the most interesting places. My parents would take in stray or displaced dogs and we’d love them as our pets for years. My husband and I adopted our own first dog weeks before we were married, and she became our “baby.” Married young, we have decided to wait to start a family, so our dogs have been our family additions. Tucker was my first foster dog, and she ended up never leaving us—for that I am grateful.

So with this foundation as a dog lover, I found myself involved with shelter and rescue dogs as an adult. I was lucky enough to join a transport mission that transported almost 20 dogs from Texas to Wisconsin in one vehicle and always up for an adventure, I said yes. I knew this was something I had to experience; I knew it would be a life-altering trip.

Think about a cross-country road trip with two best friends and almost 20 dogs—quite the experience, right? Erin (from Wisconsin) helps place dogs into homes and Larissa (from Houston) founded Lola’s Lucky Day, the rescue that saves dogs from the streets in Houston. From Texas to Wisconsin, we trekked and transported rescue dogs to help them find a better life. In order for these dogs to travel, they needed a veterinarian check and to obtain a health certificate. A lot of work, time, and effort goes into the transport of the animals, even with help from local rescues and fosters who care for these animals in the interim.

On the road we filled the car with bags of food and water and set out to feed as many homeless dogs as we could. I was absolutely shocked at how kind the dogs were—how they just wanted trust and love. We cried a few times as we held dogs we knew couldn’t come with us; we promised many that we would be back to get them. It was eye opening, to say the least, to see these dogs approach us with trepidation because they hadn’t experienced a kind human before.

We made the journey in 19 hours with three stops (and a few energy drinks!). While it sounds crazy to transport numerous dogs at once, it was a lot easier than expected. One of us drove, the other kept company (and a dog in her lap), and the person in back would sleep and rest for the next leg (with one or two dogs to snuggle with.) We rented a Suburban and had multiple crates to hold the puppies. We only stopped for gas and for bathroom breaks (animal and human!).

When we arrived in Wisconsin and unloaded all of the crates, the adopter families were there to pick up their newest family members. The following day we held an adoption event so that the remaining dogs could meet potential adopters; we also shared our story of what it took to save these dogs from the streets.

What we learned: It all begins with one. One bowl of food for an animal in need; one dollar to help with veterinarian costs; one person who will foster; one adopter, one dog saved. We are choosing to start a revolution; we are choosing to be “the one” for a pet in need. Lola’s Lucky Day wants to raise awareness about these animals and wants to help push the message to rescue, whether it be from your own backyard or in Houston. It’s the opportunity to spark change, to impact lives, and to save street animals one at a time.

How can you help? First and foremost, help spread the message! Spread awareness about this issue and help people understand the importance of rescuing animals.

Second, please consider donating to your favorite humane society or animal rescue shelter as many of these entities are non-profit organizations (and are in need of support to continue their mission). You can help in many ways from a monetary donation to your time—please take a moment to consider what the animals in your community need most.

Lastly, if you are thinking about adding a pet to your home please consider saving the life of an animal in need. According to the Humane Society, roughly 2.7 million healthy adoptable cats and dogs are put down in U.S. animal shelters each year (that’s about one every 11 seconds). Saving one dog may not change the world, but for that one dog, his or her world will change forever.