The Connecticut Humane Society took in 22 shelter dogs from Texas last week, giving them an opportunity to find a family in Connecticut while also opening up space in Texas shelters.

The canines ranged in age from 8 months to 8 years old and were already abandoned or surrendered to animal shelters in Galveston. The Connecticut Humane Society, which has 16 dogs at their Newington headquarters and another six in Waterford, sent a team of four employees to Texas to help with animal care. The organization will send another team on Sept. 12 when the first group returns, and is raising money to fund their relief teams and medical care for the dogs in Connecticut through the online campaign Lend a Helping Paw.

“These dogs were already in shelters before the hurricane hit,” said Susan Wollschlager, CHS marketing and communications manager. “They had already been looking for new families, and with them coming to us in Connecticut, that frees up space for pets who were found during the storm who are waiting to reunite with their families.”

The animals were in transit through Labor Day weekend, before arriving at Newington at 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 4, after more than 1,700 miles of travel. They are currently having their health and temperaments examined and are being treated for medical conditions before being put up for adoption.

As a part of this vetting process, the dogs were brought up to date on vaccinations and are being evaluated based on the SAFER national temperament assessment. None are available for adoption yet, Wollschlager said, but some could be ready in as soon as a few days.

“Interest has been huge,” said Barbara Naugle, director of development at CHS. “As soon as we announced we were receiving pets from the flood-ravished area of Texas, calls and emails started and also social media lit up, I mean before the pets were even here.”

The CHS had room for 22 new pets because of their success in the third national Clear the Shelters event on Aug. 19 this year. Since then, the shelters have been running under capacity. Even though no dogs are up for adoption yet, Naugle credits media attention and the generous spirit of Connecticut residents for the interest received.

“People in Connecticut are so kind and so compassionate,” Naugle said. “They see a pet in need, and for every pet in need there’s 10 people that want to adopt it. It’s really, really wonderful.”

Brandon Guy, district manager for the Waterford branch of the CHS, anticipates more animal-focused disaster relief efforts in Hurricane Irma’s wake. But he said the process of getting the dogs to new owners could take some time.

“Whenever anything like this happens in or out of the country there’s always a lot of interest, but it’s going to be a slow-moving process,” Guy said. “We’ve got to get these guys healthy, get them to where we need them to be. I’m sure they’ll fly right out the door when they do become available.”

An umbrella group coordinating disaster relief efforts in Texas requested that the CHS send a team to Texas because of their experience in disaster response. The CHS sent a similar team to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and another last year to assist in a hoarding case in the South.

The team of four, including a veterinary technician and a manager with decades of animal care experience, perform frontline medical treatment and help with activities such as cleaning and dog-walking, relieving the Texas shelter staff so that they can handle personal matters.

“Those people were flooded out of their homes, too,” Naugle said.

Many prospective adopters have expressed interest in the 22 new dogs from Texas. More representatives from the CHS will fly there on Sept. 12.

The CHS’ online campaign Lend a Helping Paw had raised over $18,000 as of Sunday.

Jever Mariwala 

Emily Schussheim |