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December 19, 2011

Into the Disaster Zone: Day 2

Lending a hand to pets and people after Irene pounds North Carolina

All Animals magazine

  • Chuck Cook

Sunday, Aug. 28

The desperation in Pamlico County was not lost on Chris Schindler, HSUS manager of animal fighting investigations. As Irene blew across North Carolina, he and two colleagues had spent two sleepless nights hunkered down with 27 dogs rescued from a nearby dogfighting operation.

To keep the shelter’s bay doors from blowing open, they’d crafted a makeshift contraption out of extra leashes. And they’d kept watch on both the flood waters creeping down the street and the roof at the back corner of the building, which was beginning to separate from the wall. “It was almost like the wall was breathing,” Schindler remembers, noting it would bow out in a gust of wind, then slam back.

It was that mission to protect the seized dogs that put Schindler and deputy manager Janette Reever in prime position to shift their efforts immediately to disaster response. As the sun finally returned Sunday, they joined Hill in assessing the aftermath, an outing that led to a fortuitous meeting with a chestnut-colored horse named Lightning.

Residents would later recount seeing the horse swimming down the road during the hurricane, and on this afternoon, the team found him strolling along the street. Using a leash and Hill’s belt, they designed a halter and walked him two miles home.

There, Schindler stood on a cluttered front porch and faced his next challenge: figuring out where the heck that scratching sound was coming from. The home of Lightning’s owners had been engulfed in flood waters the day before, and Schindler wondered if someone was trying desperately to get his attention—until he pinpointed the source of the noise. On the side porch, among piles of furniture, a door lay on its side, up against the house. And on the door’s narrow edge, balancing paws like a tightrope walker, was a red hound.

She’d been stranded up there for more than 36 hours.

“When I was able to get over to her, she practically leapt into my arms—and was like, thank God somebody came here,” Schindler says. “And then when I put her on the ground, the first thing she did was run over and roll in the grass, and roll, and roll, and roll around. I mean, she was so happy.”

Into the Disaster Zone: Days 3 and 4 »

Read more from this issue of All Animals »

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