Hoopeston group members riding to Houston-area animal shelter's rescue

Hoopeston group members riding to Houston-area animal shelter's rescue

HOOPESTON — Kathleen Orcutt and Deb Hefner are excited but also preparing emotionally to leave Saturday for Texas, where they will rescue dogs and cats from a shelter that's overwhelmed.

"It's a disaster down there," said Hefner, a board member of the Hoopeston Animal Rescue Team, which has a no-kill shelter. Hefner said the trip will be tough, knowing they won't be able to rescue all of the animals in the Houston area.

Orcutt said shelters there are taking in hundreds of animals a day.

"It's important that people understand that the animals that come back with us won't be ones lost from the storm, but ones already in a shelter prior to the storm," Orcutt said, adding that those already in the shelter are at very high risk of euthanasia, because they must make space for animals affected by the storm.

Hefner and Orcutt's destination is a Houston-area shelter, where they'll drop off donated dog food and other supplies on Saturday. They'll return with dogs, and possibly some cats, that were already at the shelter prior to the devastating flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

Orcutt said the trip wouldn't have happened had Hoopeston Animal Rescue volunteer Sara Rhodes not watched news coverage of the devastation and decided she'd spend her vacation helping there, beginning Sept. 9.

Rhodes shared her plans with Sherry Klemme, HART's director, which led the nonprofit organization's board to start collecting donations and coordinate both this weekend's trip and the one Klemme will take the following weekend.

"It has snowballed from there," Orcutt said. "They can house up to 700 animals, so we know there's no possible way we can save them all. But whoever we can save, that's what we want to do."

They will fit as many crates in a van as possible, filling them with supplies for the trip down, then animals on the way home. They're estimating they can bring back 20 dogs.

The second trip to Texas will be in a semi-tractor trailer and motor home, funded by whatever donations they get between now and then. And it's not just people in the Hoopeston area doing the collecting.

Julie Leverenz, from the Oakwood village office, is lending a hand, as well. She rescued her dog from HART. Since hearing about the donation drive, she has been distributing fliers and posters around town. (Donations can be dropped off at Oakwood village hall weekdays between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Sept. 8, or in donation boxes at multiple locations, including the Farmers Bank in Oakwood and the Pit Stop gas station and Little Nugget restaurant, both at the intersection of Henning Road and U.S. 150).

"People are being very, very generous," Orcutt said. "We would love to bring as much as we possibly can down there."

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Topics (2):Environment, Pets