4 min read

Man Buys School Bus So He Can Save Shelter Pets From Hurricane

“I’m like, look, these are lives too.”

As residents in South Carolina were preparing to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival last week, Tony Alsup of Tennessee was carrying out other plans.

In an old school bus he’d purchased for precisely this purpose, Alsup headed toward the path of the storm to save the lives of animals who’d otherwise be left behind.

Facebook/Tony Alsup

Alsup, a volunteer with EARS Emergency Animal Rescue and Shelter, had used the school bus to evacuate pets from Texas before Hurricane Harvey in 2017 — so, after learning that animal shelters in South Carolina needed a lifeline, too, he stepped in again to help.

“I’m like, look, these are lives too,” Alsup told The Washington Post. “Animals — especially shelter pets — they always have to take the back seat of the bus. But I’ll give them their own bus. If I have to I’ll pay for all the fuel, or even a boat, to get these dogs out of there.”

Prior to Florence's arrival, which would go on to claim at least 23 lives, Alsup dropped by several South Carolina shelters and loaded the school bus with needy pets.

All told, Alsup collected 53 dogs and 11 cats — furry passengers lucky to be shuttled from harm's way.

From there, Alsup delivered the pets to a rescue facility in Foley, Alabama, where they'll eventually be transferred to other animal shelters across the country — and hopefully, adopted into forever homes.

Alsup wasn't immediately available for comment on what inspired him to take on this lifesaving task, but the results of his efforts weren't lost on those at shelters he helped evacuate.

"Tony swooped in at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning to pick up our 'leftovers' — the dogs with blocky heads, the ones with heartworm. The ones no one else will ever take. And he got them to safety," the Saint Frances Animal Center in Georgetown, South Carolina, wrote online. "Not the most conventional evacuation, but surely the one with the most heart."

You can help support Alsup, and others working to help animals affected by this recent storm, by making a donation to EARS Emergency Animal Rescue and Shelter.