These dogs were reunified with their owners in Austin post-Hurricane Harvey and it’s the best

Sometimes, even a natural disaster can’t separate man’s best friend and his owner.

As Houston and the Texas coast continue to recover from the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey, Austin-area animal shelters are also struggling to care for the hundreds of displaced animals they have taken in in recent weeks. But while this continues to be a time of uncertainty and transition for many pets, there have also been at least a couple happy endings.

Take, for example, Lion, who was living with his owner/dad Oliver Santos in Houston when Hurricane Harvey hit. After water flooded the first floor of the house, Oliver and his family evacuated from a second-floor window via kayak. Because there was no space on the kayak, the family was forced to leave Lion and his two four-legged siblings behind on the second-floor balcony. Oliver feared he would never see Lion again.

Eventually, Lion was found and brought to safety in Austin, living first in a temporary shelter at the Travis County Exposition Center and ultimately transferred, along with 170 other dogs, to the Austin Humane Society. Thanks to his microchip, the Austin Humane Society, working in partnership with the Austin Animal Center, was able track down the Santos family. On Labor Day weekend, they drove to Austin to get Lion.

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Lion reunites with his owner, Oliver, at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

“As soon as Lion saw them, he jumped his front paws onto Oliver’s lap and got the biggest grin,” said Ericka Miller, director of communications for the Austin Humane Society. “Then, he rolled over for tummy rubs. It was very clear he knew his family!”

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A happy Lion after being reunited with his Houston-based family at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

The reunification was a bright spot during a tough time for the Santos family, who is currently staying with friends because the hurricane destroyed their home. They have not yet located their two other dogs but remain hopeful because they are microchipped, too.

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Lion reunites with his family at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

Sophie, another displaced Houston pup who was also transferred to the Austin Humane Society from the Travis County Exposition Center, also recently experienced a happy reunification. Although she was not microchipped, the Austin Animal Center had the address where she was rescued in Houston and reached out to her owners, the Salazar family. The family, which had just found their other dog in Houston, drove to Austin to pick up Sophie as soon as they heard the news. Once again, their family is complete.

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Sophie reunites with her family at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

In the coming weeks, local shelters will continue to try to track down owners using information from microchips and even new facial recognition technology, Miller said. Here’s hoping we’ll be hearing many more reunification stories in the coming weeks.

 

Austinites join to make Christmas miracle for abused pup named Tiny Tim

It’s an (early) Christmas miracle!

Yesterday, Austin Pets Alive! issued a desperate plea for help for a 7-month-old puppy named Tiny Tim who, much like the fictitious boy of the same name, couldn’t walk and needed surgery.

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Austinites joined together to donate the money Tiny Tim needed for his surgery. Courtesy of Austin Pets Alive!
According to Austin Pets Alive!, Tiny Tim was purchased at a flea market and forced to live in a crate that was too small for him, resulting in severely malformed hind legs.

“His knee caps are on the side of his legs as a result of staying in a bent position for too long,” Austin Pets Alive! said. “The femur bones have grown past the knee caps so he can no longer extend his hind legs or walk normally.”

The only solution was a groundbreaking new procedure that had the potential to fully restore Tiny Tim’s ability to walk. They had an orthopedic specialist who could do the surgery, but they needed at least $2,000 to make it happen.

That’s where the Austin community comes in. Less than 24 hours after the announcement, the shelter said it had raised the necessary $2,000 as well as enough to cover any complications. Tiny Tim’s surgery is confirmed for Jan. 6.

“It’s amazing. People just totally stepped up,” said Lisa Maxwell, spokeswoman for Austin Pets Alive! “It is so heartwarming to see people have concern over this one dog, that in the middle of everything going on in the world, people care enough.”

Tiny Tim is currently living with a foster family but may be available for adoption following his surgery. Anyone interested in adopting him can contact Austin Pets Alive!

There are more animals at Austin Pets Alive! that need help — learn about them or make a donation.

We are always looking for stories of good news from around the city. Have an idea? Email it to kfinan@statesman.com.