Feature Story: Tucsonans Rescue Hurricane Harvey Dogs In A Pickle

Tucsonans Rescue Hurricane Harvey Dogs In A Pickle

Story by Claire Sheridan

As Texas struggles to recover from Hurricane Harvey, 14 Houston-area dogs are finding their forever homes in the Sonoran Desert. Like many folks, Tucson-area resident Megan Rombalski watched news coverage of the storm’s aftermath and she, “felt I had to do something; people needed so much more help than what FEMA and the Red Cross could provide.”

Rombalski came up with a plan. Borrowing her childhood horse trailer from her parents, Rombalski hitched it to her pickup truck and proceeded to gather donations to drive to the Houston area. With the help of two others, Emily and Walter, Rombalski drove straight through to Houston. After spending several days off-loading the trailer, providing food, water, and pet food directly to people on the streets and to the Southeast Texas Humane Society, Rombalski realized she’d be traveling back to Tucson with an empty trailer. It was then that she took an even bigger leap.

From the ground in Texas, Rombalski began remotely networking back with Tucson. Tucson-based charity Cody’s Friends helped coordinate; they provided pet supplies for four different Tucson truckloads headed to Texas. The Humane Society of Southern Arizona and a pit bull rescue called Save-A-Bull agreed to provide temporary homes and help with permanent placement of the dogs Rombalski brought back in the horse trailer.

Rombalski received a request from Tucson: the group Veterans On Patrol had been out to Houston to help. One of their members, Edward, had elected to stay behind to help as long as he could. Could Edward hitch a ride home on the Rombalski Dog Train? The answer was, of course, yes. Edward rode in the horse trailer with the 14 crated dogs all the way home, tending to the dogs’ needs, and falling in love with his new forever buddy, Sergeant, along the way.

The dogs came from Greenville and Terrell, Texas. Veterinarian Dr. Karri McCreary of the Greenville Animal Hospital assisted with the rescue and heartworm tested each of the dogs. Heartworm is more prevalent in Texas than it is here in Tucson; Rombalski tried her best to avoid importing insurmountable problems in the dogs they brought home. Several of the dogs were pit bull types. According to Rombalski, “pit bulls are not positively viewed in Texas, and we heard a rumor that the ASPCA in Texas was euthanizing dogs just because they were pit bulls.” A pit bull named Pickles got a ticket on the Rombalski Dog Train to Tucson in spite of his heartworm-positive status.

Pickles is temporarily being fostered by Rombalski through Save-A-Bull. The woman with the big horse trailer and even bigger heart couldn’t say no to the handsome, loving, well mannered guy. Fortunately, the veterinarian determined that Pickles’ case of heartworm was less severe, meaning he probably has had it less than 6 months; it will be curable with medication, and he will not require surgery. Rombalski, who had pets of her own prior to the trip, will be keeping one Greenville rescue–a mix named Beau–and she is temporarily providing foster care for Pickles.

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona took in the remaining 11 Texas dogs. As of press time, 4 had already been adopted to loving homes here in Tucson.

Save-A-Bull, the rescue that has Pickles under their care, was started by University of Arizona graduate Emily D’Amore and her fiancée Parker. The couple grew up with dogs, and once settled into their own home, they adopted Gus and Kenna, both pit bull mixes. Growing up in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia, D’Amore never had any exposure to pit bulls; in her hometown, people typically had purebred dogs. When she moved to Tucson, Emily became a foster for Pima Animal Care Center (PACC). That led to her working at PACC. After about a year as a medical and behavioral evaluator, she came to realize that she desperately wanted to do more for pit bulls because they are such great, often misunderstood dogs. At press time, the rescue had 5 pit bulls in their care. “We are focused on quality over quantity right now. The dogs we do pull get everything they need. They all go through training and enrichment, and are matched with a foster family who can handle their needs. We want our dogs to be breed ambassadors,” said D’Amore.

Will you be the last stop on the Rombalski Dog Train from Hurricane Harvey? Get Pickles and his friends out of a pickle, and give them the forever homes they deserve.

For additional information:

Cody’s Friends (featured in September/October Tucson Dog): www.CodysFriends.org, email: helpcodysfriends@gmail.com

Humane Society of Southern Arizona (also in September/October Tucson Dog): www.hssaz.org

Veterans on Patrol: Facebook

Save-A-Bull: www.saveabullaz.org

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