With so much happening in the lead-up to a natural disaster, it’s easy to forget all the poor animals at shelters. That’s why truck driver Tony Alsup made it his mission to help those precious fur balls whenever he could, even if it meant driving from his native Tennessee to South Carolina in an old school bus just days before Hurricane Florence hit the area.
In just two days, Alsup made his way to four separate shelters — the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach, the Dillon County Animal Shelter, the Orangeburg County Animal Shelter, and Saint Frances Animal Center in Georgetown — gathering up all the “leftover” animals. The Facebook page for Saint Frances shared their gratitude for Alsup, writing: “It’s all true — Tony swooped in at 4am Wednesday morning to pick up our ‘leftovers’ — the dogs with blocky heads, the ones with heartworm. The ones no one else will ever take. And he got them to safety. Not the most conventional evacuation, but surely the one with the most heart.”
By the end of his initial trek, Alsup managed to rescue a total of 64 animals: 53 dogs and 11 cats. According to the Washington Post, the animals were taken to Foley, Alabama, where Alsup’s friend with a privately run dog shelter gave the animals a “spa treatment” — warm baths and fuzzy blankets for all! They’re working on finding more shelters and foster homes across the country to help take in the animals. In an inerview with the Washington Post, Alsup made it clear just how much passion he has for these potentially overlooked animals: “I’m like, look, these are lives too. Animals, especially shelter pets, they always have to take the back seat of the bus. But I’ll give them their own bus. If I have to I’ll pay for all the fuel, or even a boat, to get these dogs out of there.”
This isn’t Alsup’s first time venturing out to save animals. A report from Greenville News in his local Tennessee explained how he actually decided to buy the bus after some confusion while offering to help animals in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. He saw a social media post asking for help evacuating a shelter and offered to let them ride in his semi-truck — only he meant the cab, not the more spacious containment area. Instead of just settling for one or two he could take in the front of his truck, Alsup said, “You know what, why don’t I just go buy a bus?”
He already has plans to return to South Carolina and the nearby areas once the roads have been cleared for travel. Alsup is determined to help as many cats and dogs as he can. With all of the chaos and relief efforts surrounding Hurricane Florence, it’s so nice to know someone like Alsup is out there making sure animals aren’t forgotten.
You can keep up with Alsup’s rescue efforts and donate fuel for his bus by visiting EARS Emergency Animal Rescue and Shelter on Facebook. You can also help all of those still reeling from the storm (humans and animals alike) by making a donation to the Red Cross or ASPCA.