Houston puppies: ROAR helps rescue Harvey’s furry victims

The ripple effects from Hurricane Harvey’s devastation can be felt across the country, even in Ridgefield, where seven furry, four-legged refugees have found a new home after abandoning Houston with their owners earlier this summer.

It’s been a busy 10 weeks for Cash, Riley, Rocky, Sampson, Walter, Winston, and Mazi — the litter of shepherd-mix puppies that ROAR helped rescue from Texas with the assistance of Southern Cross Animal Rescue in Laurel, Miss., and the Homeward Bound Project in Starkville, Miss.

The displaced dogs were born in mid-July — a little more than a month before Harvey hit their home city of Houston.

“The owners, a mother and daughter from Houston, were planning on sending the puppies to a rescue shelter down there, but then they had to evacuate the city,” said Dan Rankowitz, ROAR’s adoption coordinator.

“Their owners did right by them,” he added. “They took them out of the city and across state lines and were able to get them to a place like Southern Cross, which helped them get here — to a place like ROAR. …

“If they were abandoned, who knows where they would have ended up.”

Between Laurel and Ridgefield, the dogs were taken to Starkville, where they received medical attention and shelter at Homeward Bound — a nonprofit animal rescue organization that started at Mississippi State University’s veterinary school in 2007.

“We’ve worked with them in the past to get animals adopted, and that’s because there’s a lot of stray dogs down there and there are not many Southern homes that are available to take in what they have,” Rankowitz said.

“When we knew the storm was coming and how bad it was going to be, we told them them, ‘We can take rescues if you clear them and can send them to us,’” he added. “We wanted to keep our doors open.”

Homeward Bound called ROAR on Sept. 5 — a week after the hurricane had hit the coast of Texas.

“They had no contact with the original family,” Rankowitz explained. “The mother and daughter scribbled down their names on a sheet at Southern Cross and split ways.”

The adoption coordinator in Ridgefield said he would be trying to contact the mother and daughter to let them know about the puppies’ safety.

“We still don’t know where they ended up,” he said. “We’re going to stay in touch with Southern Cross and hope we can find the family. …

“It’s a heartbreaking story, knowing that they had to leave all their possessions behind to be destroyed and then they had to leave their dogs in that much of a hurry.”

Coming north

The puppies arrived in Ridgefield Sunday, Sept. 24, and went up for adoption last Friday, Sept. 29.

Before that, though, they had to wait in Mississippi to be transported.

“We will take dogs from Mississippi — a few at a time, typically,” Rankowitz said. “It’s not totally uncommon for us to take in a litter like this one either, but what is unique is the fact they are so young. They were not able to be transported until they were 8 weeks old.”

Also adding to the confusion was having to deal with both Homeward Bound and Southern Cross — and SPCA of Westchester, which assisted with the transportation, taking the animals north.

“We’re a pretty small shelter, so it was definitely different coordinating with several rescue groups on this one,” Rankowitz said.

“It was all very worth it, because now we can help find these guys a permanent home.”

‘Papa was a Rollin’ Stone’

The Houston family did give the folks at Southern Cross a little information on the puppies’ background.

“Their mom is a shepherd, and she’s still with the family,” Rankowitz said.

“This was an unplanned litter,” he added. “Their father was a stray. They believe it was a white Lab but they were not totally sure.”

The paternal ambiguity has ROAR’s adoption coordinator guessing how big the puppies may be when they’re fully grown.

“They will be medium to large breed,” Rankowitz said. “Medium is 35 to 60 pounds, anything over 60 is considered large. …

“I would like to say 50 pounds probably, but I can’t guarantee anything until we know more about both parents.”

Social already

Besides coming equipped with names — given to them by their original owners, the Houston litter has a natural, calm demeanor, according to Rankowitz.

“They’re well socialized, very active,” he said. “You can handle them well and they have no diseases or any ailments even. …

“These guys were truly rescued,” he added, “and that’s good news.”

For more information about adopting the puppies, call 203-438-0158 or email shelter@roar-ridgefield.org