As Hurricane Florence loomed off of the coast of South Carolina, many were fearful about their homes, lives, and property.
Tony Alsup had another concern. What would happen to all of the pets who were separated from their families? Where would the pets left at the shelter be able to go if the storm overwhelmed their facilities?
In the aftermath of the storm, animal shelters filled with pets who were lost and scared. Many were overwhelmed with the number of pets that were brought to them. For Alsup, he knew he had to do something.
Or as he said in an interview published by the Detroit Free Press, someone had to take care of the “leftovers.”
One call for help over social media would change his life forever.
How a School Bus Became a Place of Refuge
Animal shelters can move the cute pets, the small ones, and those that look cuddly. Where they struggle is with the larger animals that can be more challenging in their care.
“We take on the ones that deserve a chance, even though they are big and a little ugly,” said Alsup. “But I love big dogs, and we find places for them.”
To make sure these pets had the best possible opportunity to survive after the storm, he purchased an old school bus, with all the seats removed, and drove it right into the storm zone that killed over a dozen people.
Visiting four towns in the state, including Dillon and Georgetown, Alsup loaded 53 dogs and 11 cats into his school bus. Then he took them all to a shelter which was waiting for him in Foley, Alabama.
From that shelter, the pets would go to other shelters, in a better position to be adopted.
Alsup himself is a trucker based out of Greenback, Tennessee.
This Experience Wasn’t His First Saving Trip
Although news of Alsup’s work went viral after Hurricane Florence, it is essential to note that this was not his first saving mission for pets. When Hurricane Harvey came through Texas, he took his semi-truck down to Houston.
He thought he had promised to carry a few dogs in his cab. The shelter thought he was going to take dozens of dogs in his trailer. That became the motivation to purchase an old school bus to help.
His $3,200 investment has inspired him to take shelter pets out of harm’s range in other hurricane zones as well, including Florida and Puerto Rico.
“People don’t believe me,” said Alsup,” they say it’s got to be barking crazy, but no. They know I’m the Alpha dog and I’m not here to hurt them.”
After a rescue, his old school bus smells like musty, wet dog, but that is a scent that everyone loves. It is proof that another group of pets is away from trouble and one step closer to finding their forever home.