Pittsburgh animal rescue team, shelters to help Harvey-ravaged Texas
Pittsburgh area shelters are opening cages in an effort to help Texas animal shelters in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Ohio Township-based Animal Friends will receive 27 dogs Monday as part of a partnership with the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team , shelter spokeswoman Shannon Tremblay said.
“This will help to free up space in the Texas animal shelters so they can help the animals displaced by the flooding,” Tremblay said.
The nonprofit aviation animal rescue team will send four members to San Antonio, Texas, on Friday night, where they will assist in efforts to ease overcrowding at a shelter.
PAART will return Sept. 4 with animals who were in shelters prior to Hurricane Harvey, rescue team organization Executive Director Mary Withrow said.
“We have been in constant contact with shelters in hurricane-ravaged parts of Texas,” she said. “Our team has been on standby waiting for the word to go.”
On Thursday, the rescue team received word that their services were needed “and we are headed down for the first of a multi-part mission to offer hope,” she said.
PAART will drop off dogs at shelters on their way back to Pittsburgh, and the group will deliver other dogs to Pittsburgh area shelters, including Animal Friends, Humane Animal Rescue, Beaver County Humane Society, All But Forgotten, Angel Ride Animal Rescue, and Pet Search.
“We are very careful that we are only removing animals already in the system to avoid taking family pets who end up in the shelter,” PAART co-founder Brad Childs said. “We want to give the people of Texas the time and space they need to come back and claim their animals.”
Withrow said a second group from PAART will leave Pittsburgh on Sept. 3 and that a third trip already is being planned.
PAART's mission is to rescue at-risk dogs, cats and other animals. The group was formally founded in 2012 by Childs and Jonathan Plesset, according to its website. Childs is regional vice president of Eyetique and Plesset owns Shadyside Inn All Suites Hotel. Since its inception, the group has saved more than 6,000 animals.
The Big Easy Animal Hospital in Lawrenceville was planning to open its 56 kennels to animals from Texas, said practice manager Becky Frazier.
“We have two vets who were thinking about going down there, but then we thought maybe we could do more from here,” she said. The practice was reaching out to PAART, Animal Friends and other rescue groups to find animals they could take in, and were seeking donations and volunteers for when they arrive.
Animal Friends helped the animal aviation rescue team fill their planes with supplies for animal shelters in Texas, Animal Friends' Tremblay said.
“But in order to admit as many of the pets as they can, Animal Friends needs help emptying the full kennels they have now,” Tremblay said.
Matthew Santoni contributed to this report. Bobby Cherry is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @bc_trib. Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @msantoni.