Last day of saving pets in aftermath of Hurricane Ike

Best Friends’ rapid response team is on its way home – but not before, on its last day, the team rescued even more pets.

150 pets rescued, including a blue heeler dog

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, they were on the ground, pulling dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, two sugar gliders and a wart hog from the rubble. In the end, the team rescued more than 150 pets from a rural community on the Gulf Coast of Texas in Galveston County.

Also on their final day, just before residents were to be allowed back into the area, they reunited a blue heeler named Brandy with her person. Brandy had been on her porch, which was on stilts, since just before the storm.

Rich Crook, who led the rapid response team in Texas, drove Brandy about 30 miles to the town of Dickinson, where her person was located. "Some people think it’s just a dog, but it’s like getting a human back, especially after you’ve just lost everything," says Cindy Goodwin, Brandy’s person.

Rich says dogs like Brandy are the reason the team has been in the region: to do what we can for the area’s animals, including reuniting them with their people. "It was a good thing," Rich says. "We were able to rescue a dog and in the same day reunite her with her person. It’s nice to see closure for what we do."

Rescuing a black Lab

The team continued on its way, rescuing more pets, this time on the outskirts of the Bolivar Peninsula on Crystal Beach. They went to a lumber yard looking for a skittish black Lab. Team member Pam Crook found fresh paw prints, so they took an off-road utility vehicle out to the grasslands, to an area difficult to access, tracing the footsteps of a dog.

"We found her wandering on a street," Rich says. "She was all by herself."

The shaggy dog was drinking water from a muddy ditch in an area that was swampy from the storm. "I slowly approached, stood there and then put a slip-leash around her neck," Rich says.

He named her Muddy. She was taken to the Galveston County animal shelter in Texas City, where Best Friends had worked each day with animal control officers.

Saving a tabby cat and kitten as well as a scared dog

Also rescued during that last day was a tabby cat from inside a home and an older kitten hiding in the rubble outside a house.

A small dog was rescued from another porch, this one connected to a boarded-up house. "The storm blew off the door and some of the plywood," Rich says. "The dog was able to come and go. She’s a little brown mix."

But when they reached the dog, who was growly at first, she had no water. So they gave her fresh water, then took her off the porch and, along with Muddy, drove her to the shelter.

"These guys are what it’s all about," Rich says.

Photos of Rich and Brandy, Pam and Muddy, and Mike and cat by Jason Watt

Read more about Best Friends’ aid for animals in natural disasters