Helen Woodward staff members and 80 rescued animals to return from Houston Tuesday

RANCHO SANTA FE (KUSI) — 9/4/2017 — The Helen Woodward Animal Center is expecting 80 orphaned cats and dogs from Houston to arrive Tuesday. 

The non-profit, located in Rancho Sante Fe, sent a team of four veterinarian technicians to the flood-ravaged area Thursday. They spent time helping shelters, inundated with abandoned animals from Hurricane Harvey, by administering vaccinations and medications.

The team will return with animals that were already in shelters, to make room for the countless others who still need to be reunited with their owners. 

Southwest Airlines partnered with the animal center, offering free passage for the team of vets and animals. Helen Woodward Center is also raising money for the Montgomery-County Animal Shelter in Texas, which has the bigger burden of taking in not only dogs and cats but abandoned livestock, horses, and reptiles. 

The flight lands in San Diego around noon. The animals will then be transported to the center around 2 p.m. The center is inviting the public to come welcome the new animals to San Diego, while also informing them how they can adopt or become foster parents. Foster parenting allows the animals to become socialized so they can find a forever home faster. There is a critical need for cat fosters parents. 

For more information, visit the Helen Woodward Animal Center Facebook page

8/31/2017 — Four staff members from the Helen Woodward Animal Center boarded a plane Thursday morning bound for Texas to help rescue stranded animals. 

With the Houston-Hobby Airport remaining closed, the flight was Austin-bound with an SUV ready to drive the group to the Lone Star Convention Center where Montgomery County-based rescue organization – Operation Pets Alive! – had set up an emergency shop. 

There, 100s of orphan dogs and cats pulled from devastated Houston shelters are waiting for rescue and Helen Woodward Animal Center is ready to assist.

The destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey has captured the media spotlight globally for days, depicting unimaginable loss and nightmarish scenarios few can imagine.

For the staff at Helen Woodward Animal Center, however, the tales have a ring of familiarity to them.  In 2012, Center staff welcomed 60 orphan dogs and cats from New Jersey (who had been stranded in underwater shelters during Hurricane Sandy), via a donated charter from Southwest.  Similarly, in 2005, the Center aided with the transportation and placement of Hurricane Katrina animal victims.  The impact of helping those who were unable to help themselves, orphan dogs and cats facing displacement and possible euthanasia, made its mark on all who had a hand in it.

One such person is now Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Director of Operations Jennifer Shorey. In 2012, Shorey had been part of a team who had donated their services to the Helen Woodward Animal Center rescue by chaperoning the orphan pets across the country.  Her work with those rescued dogs and cats played a part in her decision to begin working with Helen Woodward Animal Center.  

“You look at all of those faces and know that their stay at the shelter was meant to be temporary,” Shorey stated.  “It was supposed to lead them to forever homes.  But when something as devastating as a hurricane hits, so much has to be left behind.  People lose their homes, their possessions, and just focus on survival.  And those orphan pets are left behind too.  You realize how much of a difference you can make and how many lives you can save.”

Helen Woodward Animal Center’s rescue of Houston pets was initiated by a call for help from Operation Pets Alive! – a non-profit, all volunteer organization “striving to elevate Montgomery County to a No-Kill Community.”  Helen Woodward President and CEO Mike Arms immediately agreed to assist.  As in 2012, Southwest also jumped in to donate the use of a plane, with Southwest Employees donating their time, all for the extraordinary rescue.

“These are the silent victims,” Arms said. “There are shelters that have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey, without electricity, without supplies.  Operation Pets Alive! has taken in an overwhelming number of orphan dogs and cats who had inhabited those shelters before the storm and were suddenly facing euthanasia simply because they had no place to go.  We are honored to help save those lives and we are lucky to have incredible friends like Southwest to help make this all possible.”

Tuesday, Sep. 5, approximately 80 orphan dogs and cats (from Operation Pets Alive!) are flying across the country to Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe. 

“The devastation of Hurricane Harvey has impacted a number of our communities along the Gulf.  Our hearts are with our Customers, Employees, family and friends who have experienced loss and devastation from the storm,” said Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines Chief Communications Officer.  “We’re so happy to partner with the Helen Woodward Animal Center to extend hope to Houston by transporting shelter animals to a new home in San Diego, while making additional space for family pets whose humans are currently displaced.  Our Employees care so deeply for our Customers and all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, including our sweet little four-legged friends.”


Helen Woodward Animal Center is also sending a $5,000 donation to Operations Pets Alive! to assist with the continued orphan animal rescue efforts and encourages other to make a donation to the organization as well. 

To do so, please log onto https://poundwishes.com/donate/2159787/help-for-harvey-s-homeless-pets.

To assist the Houston arrivals here in San Diego, Helen Woodward Animal Center asks for the donation of towels and blankets. 

Categories: Local San Diego News