Newington shelter takes in Harvey's canine refugees

Published on Saturday, 16 September 2017 22:06
Written by Erica Schmitt

Staff Writer

NEWINGTON - Twenty-two dogs arrived at the Connecticut Humane Society’s Newington shelter recently after a long trip from Houston, where they were rescued from shelters devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

They underwent medical evaluations and treatment while under a 48-hour quarantine. Adoptions were expected to begin sometime last week.

“They’ve been through a lot,” Executive Director Gordon Willard said.

A rescue team of professionals was deployed to the Lone Star State and left Houston with the dogs, arriving in Newington two days later.

“They’re doing well after a very long truck ride,” Willard added. “I think they’re enjoying the cooler weather. They’re getting a chance to walk the grounds, stretch their legs; we’re creating a bond with them.”

Behaviorist Rebecca Meyer was among the staff who welcomed the animals in and got to know them throughout the week.

“A year ago we dealt with the flood dogs from the Carolinas, after Hurricane Matthew,” Meyer said.

Treatment in both instances included walks outside and belly rubs.

Most of the dogs in this group are shepherd and bull-terrier mixes, some suffering from heartworm disease and other ailments. All were isolated from the other animals at the shelter for two days, a safety measure required by state law.

Local residents will be eager to open their homes to these Southern transplants, said Willard, who is asking people to be patient.

“I realize everybody is going to be interested in these animals in particular, but we want to stress that we won’t be rushing the process. We want people to understand what their needs are and make sure they will fit into their home.”

He also emphasized that pets that had been displaced from their homes were not part of this Texas group, which came from an animal shelter in Galveston.

“These animals were already given up and in need of homes. They are not lost pets whose owners will be looking for them once they get re-established themselves.”

A disaster-relief team was deployed over the weekend to help teams in Texas care for displaced pets and reunite them with their families.

A national adoption day event Aug. 19 left the CHS with ample space in its shelters for the Texas dogs.

People interested in adopting are asked to check its website for updates, at

Meanwhile, Turnpike Motors Auto Body in Newington spent a week collecting medical supplies, food and other items for pets affected by the hurricane, teaming up with Connecticut Emergency Animal Response Service and the Farmington Police Department.

Donations to the Animal Relief Drive will leave the Farmington Polo Grounds Thursday in a rescue convoy. Turnpike Motors alone donated $2,000 worth of medical supplies, from gauze and sutures to blankets and bandages.

“We’re huge animal advocates here,” Controller Marty Smith said. “If you’re a successful business, it’s important to do what’s right.”

She rescued her own shepherd-Lab mix, Zoe, from New York City after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“It’s heartbreaking to see these animals being abandoned during the flooding,” Smith said. “I would adopt all of them if I could. People can fend for themselves but animals need us to take care of them.”

To make a donation to help pets affected by Hurricane Harvey, visit

Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, Newington on Saturday, 16 September 2017 22:06. Updated: Saturday, 16 September 2017 22:08.