Culture November 30, 2017

Fuelanthropic Feature: Houston Hero


By Nicole Hinson, Account Executive

“It is amazing how much love and laughter [dogs] bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.” – John Grogan, Author, Marley and Me

I haven’t always been a crazy dog lover. Sure, I’ve always liked dogs, but not so much that I would drop everything to save one from an abandoned apartment complex (yes, I’ve done that), or spend a week in Houston cleaning crates and walking dogs displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

It started a year ago when my husband and I signed up to be foster parents through ALIVE Rescue Memphis, a local branch of ALIVE Rescue which began in Chicago. It is a foster-based rescue program for homeless animals in the Memphis area, and the goal is to save as many animals as possible from kill shelters and the streets, ultimately placing them in their best-matched forever homes.

On December 23, 2016, we got our girl, Coconut – perfect timing for the holidays. Almost immediately, you could tell she felt safe and was grateful for her new life. Seeing her instant happiness and gratification changed me forever, and I wanted to do more for pups who weren’t so lucky.

I got my chance on September 18, when I headed down to Houston to meet up with ALIVE Rescue to assist with animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey and housed at a temporary shelter established by Best Friends Animal Society. 

Best Friends Animal Society is an amazing national animal welfare organization devoted to helping end the killing in America’s animal shelters. After Hurricane Harvey, they deployed a disaster response team who worked tirelessly to rescue and save hundreds of displaced animals in Houston and surrounding areas. They set up the shelter at Houston’s NRG Arena.

The first day we arrived was very emotional for me. There were rows and rows of kennels holding nearly 600 animals. It was overwhelming, but the operation was so impressive, and everything was run extremely well.

The Best Friends staff and volunteers treated each animal as their own, and the level of care each animal received was incredible. Dozens of professional veterinarians were on staff to provide any medical attention the animals might need, and the kennels were clean and outfitted with beds and blankets. Each dog received treats twice a day, had toys, and got Kongs filled with peanut butter – it was amazing. These animals were lucky to have ended up with Best Friends, and far away from their previous situation.

Our tasks each day included walking the dogs, cleaning and disinfecting the kennels, feeding each dog twice a day, and sanitizing Kongs, food bowls, and water bowls. This all sounds simple enough, but it was very hard work, and, at the same time, completely worth it. Each dog I encountered was beyond grateful and just so happy to be in a safe and secure environment. The brief moments we had with each dog made such an impact – you could tell the human interaction and love they were receiving was making a huge difference.

Before we arrived, and after we left, hundreds of volunteers came from all over the country to help. It warms my heart to see how many people love and care for these animals.

Now, countless Hurricane Harvey animals have already been rescued or adopted. Best Friends is working relentlessly to transport the remaining animals to rescue groups and no-kill shelters which share the same mindset and values they do: That each and every one of these animals deserves a loving home. Best Friends will not stop until that has been accomplished.

I am so grateful that inferno allows its employees to use up to one week of paid civic time for work outside of the agency. I never would have had this experience if not for the Fuelanthropic program, and the generosity of the inferno partners.

While it was a brief but impactful moment in my rescue journey, rescue has now become ingrained in my life and is a passion that I will always continue to have. I feel so fortunate to be part of ALIVE Rescue Memphis, an organization that values the lives of so many forgotten dogs, and will be forever grateful to Best Friends Animal Society for their stellar work.