dog rescue

Woman Crawls Through Strangers’ Windows To Grab Pets Left Behind In Hurricane Floods

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Hurricane Matthew ended up causing more flooding in Pinetops, NC, than many people ever thought it would.

As a result, some evacuating families had to leave everything behind, including, in some cases, their beloved pets.

It sounds cruel, but leaving pets behind isn’t the families’ choice. Many Pinetops residents were only capable of taking one pet with them.

Luckily, they had a friend in Alex Layton. Layton, who fosters and rescues dogs, was one of many volunteers ready to brave the murky waters and round up all the animals left behind, even the tiniest ones.

Many fleeing residents had even left their keys with her, so she could go into their homes and get their pets to a safe place to await their humans’ return.

Of course, it wasn’t always so easy. Sometimes she could guide her boat up a flooded driveway, but other times, she and her team members had to shove open doors in waist-deep water.

Once inside the houses, Layton and her team would search for the terrified animals, who could usually be found on the highest perches they could find.

“They were on the highest parts of the house,” she says, describing a family of cats she found in one home. “Above the kitchen cabinet; on the back of the sink. It was pitiful.”

The experience was a grueling one for Layton and the rest of the volunteers, but also a rewarding one. In all, 27 dogs, four cats, one horse, and a chinchilla were rescued.

Check out the daring rescued below!

[H/T: The Dodo, ABC]

“We were not expecting any of this,” volunteer rescuer Alex Layton said of the flooding in Pinetops, NC, that came with Hurricane Matthew.

“We were expecting to be hit lightly and maybe three or four inches of water.”

But with houses half-submerged, many people were forced to flee to higher ground — and many were forced to leave their pets behind.

That’s where Layton, along with many other volunteers, stepped in. Some families had left the volunteers with keys so they could go in and grab their pets.

Other times, Layton found herself shimmying through open windows to get to the animals inside.

To be clear, families didn’t want to abandon their pets. Those evacuating were told that they could only bring small dogs, and had to leave large dogs and cats behind.

Luckily, though, Layton and the other volunteers were there to pick them up.

Many of the animals, like this dog, clambered desperately to the highest places they could find to escape the rising water.

Layton and the volunteers went through the town’s flooded streets in boats, looking for stranded pets who, naturally, were thrilled to see them.

Meanwhile, their tearful owners waited anxiously. Some even came along.

The volunteers waded through water, getting soaked, to pull out a total of 27 dogs, four cats, one horse, and one chinchilla from the flooded homes.

Many of the animals were soaked, cold, and needed to get inside to some warmth immediately.

All of the animals that Layton and the volunteers rescued are safe, after being warmed up and checked out at the local animal shelter.

All but six of the animals have been reunited with their owners.

As for the ones still waiting, they’re being put up at the local humane society, and Layton herself is boarding some, too.

Other people, whose houses weren’t affected by the storm, have also opened their doors to animals in need of a place to stay.

Layton’s team also made a daring rescue for a horse trapped on a porch, standing neck-deep in the water.

Layton herself had to swim out to it, the water being too deep for her to stand.

But the horse was finally brought back to dry land as one of the crew’s more unusual rescues.

The other unusual rescue was a chinchilla, who was plucked from a flooded house by the rescuers.

There’s still a lot of work to do for the animals of Pinetops, as many homes and kennels were flooded, leaving animals (and people) without permanent homes.

But for now, the animals are out of danger. If you’d like to see that Pinetops — as well as the other areas affected by Hurricane Matthew — get the help they need, consider donating to the Wilson County Humane Society, or to one of the many relief projects you can find on GoFundMe.

And be sure to SHARE this story of heroism during a dark time.