2017-10-14 / Features

Chihuahua rescue group retrieves HARVEY DOGS

By Anna Fletcher
Courier-Times Staff Writer


Dr. Vicki Soares checks the eyes of Peaches, the eldest of the 11 Harvey Dogs. Dr. Vicki Soares checks the eyes of Peaches, the eldest of the 11 Harvey Dogs. Eleven chihuahuas displaced by Hurricane Harvey were brought to Woodsdale Animal Hospital on Sunday, Oct. 8, after being rescued from Dallas, Texas by the Southeastern region of Chihuahua Rescue & Transport, a foster organization based in Timberlake.

Dr. Vicki Soares, Woodsdale’s veterinarian, opened the clinic, which is normally closed on Sunday, especially for the dogs to be evaluated. Vet technicians Tabitha Briggs and Courtney Johnson took the dogs’ vitals and blood and fecal samples before passing them on to Soares, who examined them for any health issues and administered rabies shots.

These chihuahuas are unclaimed “Harvey Dogs,” part of a group of over 100 chihuahuas rescued from the Beaumont/Port Arthur area of Houston, Texas, which got hit particularly hard by Hurricane Harvey, said Carla Johnson, Southeastern coordinator of CRT. The Houston SPCA held the dogs at its facility for 30 days and posted each dog’s picture on its website so owners could reclaim them. By Thursday, Oct. 3, the end of the holding period, 45 chihuahuas were still unclaimed, and the facility was running out of room.


Two Harvey Dogs await their turn to be evaluated by Dr. Vicki Soares. Two Harvey Dogs await their turn to be evaluated by Dr. Vicki Soares. “[The Houston SPCA] is housing dogs for people that are still displaced,” Johnson said. “They had these guys doubled and tripled up in runs and kennels, because they’re the Houston SPCA but they’ve only got so many runs. Four hundred to 500 dogs I think they said came in. And that’s on top of what they already had.”

Needing help to relocate the 45 unclaimed chihuahuas, the Houston SPCA contacted CRT, which sent a van from its Dallas/Fort Worth region to pick them up. The dogs were taken to the home of CRT President Karen Hales in Richardson, Texas, where it was decided that nine would stay in Texas, eight would go to Dayton, Ohio and 28 would go to North Carolina. The long journey Carla Johnson was responsible for the 28 North Carolina-bound chihuahuas. On Oct. 3, she drove to Wilmington, where she joined up with three other CRT volunteers. They left for Double Springs, Alabama at 6 a.m. the next day, arriving 11 hours later. With little time to rest, they hit the road at 5 a.m. on Oct. 5 for Richardson, Texas, arriving at Hales’ home around 4:30 p.m.


CRT volunteer Nina Mastrangelo spends time with the rescued chihuahuas, taking them out of their kennels one by one to comfort them. CRT volunteer Nina Mastrangelo spends time with the rescued chihuahuas, taking them out of their kennels one by one to comfort them. “We picked these guys up, and then we drove back to Double Springs,” Johnson said. “We didn’t go anywhere


Vet tech Courtney Johnson prepares the dogs’ fecal samples, which she will examine under a microscope to check for internal parasites. In the background is other vet tech Tabitha Briggs. Vet tech Courtney Johnson prepares the dogs’ fecal samples, which she will examine under a microscope to check for internal parasites. In the background is other vet tech Tabitha Briggs. Friday be- cause we didn’t get in until 5 a.m. [that morning.] That’s when the other rescue group came and helped.”

The other rescue group that came to Hales’ home was Free State Four Paws Rescue, an organization based in Double Springs. They showed up in the mid morning and late afternoon that Friday to help bathe the dogs, clip nails, clean cages and “love on the babies,” as Johnson said.

“It takes a village, that’s what I keep telling everyone,” she said. “We’ve had so much help with people wanting to donate and help, and with the different rescues working together.”

On Oct. 7, Johnson and the CRT volunteers headed back to Wilmington with their 28 passengers. They stopped in Shallotte, North Carolina to drop seven dogs off at Rescue Animals Community Effort, and then staged the remaining 22 dogs at the home of one volunteer, Glenda Pryor, in Wilmington for the night.

“She called her husband and said, ‘Honey, I’m bringing 22 dogs to the house, can you move the dining room table and the chairs out so we can put down a tarp and put the dogs in there?’” Johnson said. “It was great until this morning at four o’clock when they all started howling.”

In all, nine dogs were loaded into another volunteer’s car and taken to Six Forks Animal Hospital in Raleigh for evaluation. One dog was left in Wilmington, and the rest came to Roxboro.

A new home

Johnson and the dogs arrived at Woodsdale Animal Hospital around 11 a.m. Two CRT volunteers, Laura Carson from Greensboro and Nina Mastrangelo from Durham, met her there to help transport the dogs into the hospital and keep them calm throughout the evaluation process.

The 11 Harvey Dogs will be fostered until they receive all of their necessary shots, medications and neuter/spay services. It could be a couple weeks to a month before they are adoptable, Mastrangelo said, but already, people have taken notice.

“A lot of people are interested in them,” she said. “I was at the Dog Olympics event in Raleigh, and lots of people came up to me and said that they have been watching the social media pages of the Harvey Dogs. People want to adopt them.”

To adopt a Harvey Dog or to learn more about the organization, including how to volunteer, visit chihuahua rescue.com.

For more information about CRT, visit their website at http://www.chihuahua rescue.com.

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Chihuahua Rescue's website is

Chihuahua Rescue's website is Chihuahua-rescue.com