An estimated 70 million dogs are living in U.S. households, and one brave trucker from Greenback, Tennessee is being recognized for his efforts to save 64 dogs and cats from the flood waters of Hurricane Florence in an unconventional way — with a school bus.
Tony Alsup, was determined to save ‘as many animals as possible’ from the impending floods of Hurricane Florence.
“I’m like, look, these are lives too,” Alsup recently told The Washington Post. “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.”
And he did. Alsup, 51, started his excursion by driving his renovated school bus to South Carolina.. Within the past few weeks, he’s managed to rescue at least 53 dogs and 11 cats from various animal shelters that had been directly in Florence’s path. So far, he’s stopped at the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach, the Dillon County Animal Shelter, and Saint Frances Animal Center in Georgetown, among others.
Of course, this isn’t Alsup’s first rodeo — he renovated his school bus last year in an effort to rescue animals from the Texas coast after seeing on the news just how many animals had been left behind or in overcrowded shelters.
“I thought, well what can I do?” he said. “I’ll just go buy a bus.”
Since then, Alsup has also assisted with rescues during Hurricane Irma. Furthermore, there are more than 3 million farmers across America, and while Alsup didn’t use his bus, he did help some farmers to feed their horses during Hurricane Maria as well.
Before embarking on his journey, Alsup fully stocked his bus with kennels and plenty of materials like pet food, toys, water bowls, leashes, and more. The number of devices that connect to the Internet is expected to rise from about 13 billion to 50 billion by 2020, so it’s no surprise that he was updating his Facebook friends and followers every step of the way, encouraging feedback regarding where pets needed help and even writing “NO ONE LEFT BEHIND” before he left.
In response, one shelter posted that Alsup had indeed picked up ‘leftovers’ — pets that had long been unadopted. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year, but in addition to aggression, there are other reasons some pets remain in shelters:
“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,” wrote Saint Frances Animal Center in a Facebook post. “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.”
Once all of the animals were safely loaded into the bus, Alsup headed down to Foley, Alabama. There, he had a friend waiting for him — Angela Eib-Maddux — who opened her privately run dog shelter to Alsup’s new furry friends. Each of the animals received baths, fluffy blankets, and what Alsup called ‘spa treatments’ before finding them shelters or foster homes. After their valiant efforts, they did it all in just one day.
“We just burned up the airwaves,” Alsup said.
Now, he’s headed to Wilmington, North Carolina to see what he can do to keep his rescue mission on track.