This is Alex Layton, a volunteer at a non-profit organization called the Maggie Society, and she rescues and fosters dogs on a regular basis.
The North Carolina, US, resident spent the holiday weekend traversing through flood waters on a boat, in order to rescue pets that were left behind during the hurried evacuation before Hurricane Matthew hit.
Despite having been given keys to many houses of worried pet owners, hers was not an easy task — with water surging around Layton’s waist, the doors still needed to be shoved open by several people from her rescue team.
For when Layton wasn’t given keys by fur parents, she would fit her small frame into an open window and crawl her way through.
Once they were inside, they saw the same devastating situation at every house they went: dogs and cats climbing atop the highest spot they could get to.
“That’s where it hit me the most,” Layton said. “They were on the highest parts of the house. Above the kitchen cabinet. On the back of the sink. It was pitiful.”
Layton was one of the many selfless volunteers who worked with firefighters and rescue crews in Pinetops, North Carolina, to save as many lives as they could — including those of pets who had been hastily left behind.
Very few people expected that floodwaters in Pinetops to rise so high in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Hundreds of residents were evacuated, but were allowed only one pet to take with them.
“We were not expecting any of this,” Layton said. “We were expecting to be hit lightly and maybe three or four inches (of water).”
Layton joined a crew on several boats making runs to swamped houses and yards, while more volunteers waited on dry land with crates.
Every time Layton sailed back out, her list seemed to get longer and longer as frantic pet owners gave her an address to check in on their pets.
Most of the pets rescued didn’t come from inside of houses, however — they were fished out from the floodwaters and shivering in the cold.
Layton’s rescue crew managed to save a total of 27 dogs, four cats, a horse…; and one other tiny house pet.
“A family member had told me they had left their chinchilla,” Layton said. “So we called the boat that was out there and they went and got their chinchilla.”
All of the rescues are now safe. Animal lovers from surrounding areas that weren’t hit by the hurricane offered kennels for some of the pets, a few were given room and board by the humane society, while Layton herself is fostering several others. The rest have already been reunited with their owners.
Looking at it now, Pinetops seems to have a lot of rebuilding to do. But thanks to people like Layton, the animals of the tragedy-stricken town need not worry.
Layton even set up a fund for anyone who wishes to help in the veterinary care of the rescued animals. You can make your donation to email@example.com through PayPal.