Animals transported out of Louisiana to make room for Harvey strays

HAMMOND, LA (WAFB) - Dozens of dogs in Hammond boarded a jet Sunday, on flights that will save lives.

"It is a tremendous help," said Terrie Varnado, coordinator for "Don't Be Cruel" Animal Rescue. "Otherwise, all the dogs would have to be euthanized."

Terrie Varnado put together this flight, and many others, right after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.

Hundreds of dogs were stranded, and Texas shelters have run out of room, leaving euthanization as the only option.

But animal shelters in Louisiana joined the group Pilots N Paws to find those dogs a home.

Pilots are carrying many of the dogs in Louisiana shelters to large shelters in Michigan and New York, making room for dogs in Houston to come here. Since the storm, the team has moved dogs out of Hammond, West Baton Rouge, and Jefferson Parish.

They will hold onto these dogs for a longer period, just to give Texas owners a chance to find them.

"In catastrophes, some of the dogs will not be reclaimed, because the people have lost everything," Varnado said. "So what we do is we hold their dogs for an unlimited amount of time, and then give them a chance to reclaim. And if they don't reclaim, we will try to move them into rescues."

The flights take a lot of work... getting dogs in crates, putting on name tags, and filling out paperwork.

But Varnado has it down to a science, thanks to experience.

She went through this same process during the flood last year.

It also helps to have dedicated volunteers like Ashleigh Soniat.

"It is my passion to be able to help animals," Soniat said. "So I very much enjoy when we're able to do things like this."
Pilots made three flights out of Hammond today.

They've already transported hundreds out of Louisiana, and they say they'll continue until the Houston shelters no longer need their assistance.

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