Hurricane Harvey, the highly publicized flood disaster that caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage in Southeast Texas and claimed 75 lives, has come to an end. But efforts to protect further lives from the damage it wreaked are only just beginning.
Beyond its substantial effect on human lives, animals count themselves among Hurricane Harvey victims as well, and are often abandoned to an uncertain fate in the aftermath of a disaster of this scale. The potential threat that lost, scared, and abandoned animals pose in post-hurricane situation is severe – these animals find precious little to eat and can become vectors for virulent diseases.
One of our employees, Jessica Gogley, is also the director of a non-profit organization called Silver Lining Services. She took it upon herself to charter a van and personally venture into the disaster zone to rescue these animals and provide supplies to those in need.
Her story was syndicated on regional news, becoming an inspiration to us and everyone else affected by the hurricane’s onslaught. Upon her safe, successful return, she related her story to us.
Receiving the Call to Action
On Friday, September 1st, Jessica received a call from Silver Lining Services’ previous director, asking what she thought about traveling to Houston to help. Having just assumed the directorship of the company, this would be her very first mission with the non-profit, and she immediately went to work on gathering supplies and funds for the trip.
Due to the difficulty of procuring funds and finding supplies, preparation took a week. All of the funds used in this rescue effort were raised as donations. At the last minute, one of the rescue services already on the ground in Houston called and reported that Jessica would need to bring a livestock trailer with air conditioning to make sure the animals didn’t overheat on their trip to safety – this meant starting from square one more than a half-week into the plan.
On the very day before leaving, a volunteer working for Jessica was able to rent a cargo van with unlimited miles for the trip. While the vehicle did have much-needed air conditioning, it was smaller than the large-scale livestock trailer Jessica originally envisioned. Nevertheless, her team had to offer whatever help they could, so they set off towards Houston on the morning of Friday the 7th.
Bringing Aid to Houston’s Hurricane Harvey Victims
While on the way to Houston, Jessica’s team picked up 4,000 pounds of dog food and a huge supply of donated blankets from a local thrift store. The van was packed to the very ceiling. These supplies, donated by the Animal Protection League of Mercer County, would bring much-needed relief to the Hurricane Harvey victims they would meet on the way. That van would be the three-member team’s home for the next four days.
Jessica and team reached Houston’s perimeter on Saturday evening and began surveying the devastation, they found furniture washed along the sidewalk alongside rubble and debris, water lines on houses, uprooted trees, and more. The team quickly set to work finding and catching any scared, stray, starving animals they could find.
At this point, when venturing through the waterlogged remains of people’s homes, locals warned Jessica to watch out for copperhead snakes. As Texans know well, the copperhead snake has a venomous bite and is prone to attack humans when it feels threatened.
Within a day, the team had collected 11 stray dogs, most of them were too scared to approach their rescuers. Jessica and her team, however, persisted on, undeterred. The dogs were packed into the cargo van with as much care for their comfort as possible, and the trip back to Ohio began.
Traveling Back to Ohio
Jessica’s team had to take every dog out of the van every 3-4 hours for rest, relief, and mealtime. The team had already contacted rescue services in Ohio who were prepared to take the dogs into custody and begin searching for their owners. One, a forty-pound red dog named Bailey, had its owners’ phone number engraved on its collar. So Jessica called them and was relieved to find the family safe and sound. Efforts to reunite their family are already underway.
Silver Lining Services delivered each of the scared, defenseless animals to their temporary shelters. The Auglaize County Humane Society adopted five of the animals, and the rest were distributed to nearby supporters.
The organization kept the last of the dogs at their own offices for medical treatment, which they are now raising funds for. Obi, a Great Dane coping with skin and skeletal damage is currently residing in an Ohio home waiting for medical treatment. We have the greatest respect for Jessica Gogley, the Silver Linings Services team, and everyone else who has put themselves in harm’s way to save innocent Hurricane Harvey victims.