Tony Alsup is being hailed as a modern-day Noah, saving hordes of animals from floodwaters. Instead of an arc, though, the 51-year-old has a hollowed-out school bus he uses to rescue dozens of pets from hurricanes.
As of Sunday, September 16, the truck driver from Greenback, Tennessee, had already driven 64 cats and dogs away from the path of Hurricane Florence.
“I’m like, look, these are lives too,” Alsup told The Washington Post that night. “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.”
Alsup started rescuing pets from deadly storms last year — when he headed to Texas in the face of Hurricane Harvey. But he knew he couldn’t put dogs and cats in the back of his semitrailer. “I thought, well what can I do?” he told The Post. “I’ll just go buy a bus.”
Since then, Alsup has also come to the rescue of pets endangered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Ahead of Florence’s arrival last week, the trucker stopped at shelters in the South Carolina towns of North Myrtle Beach, Orangeburg and Georgetown. He asked social media followers to alert him to pets in need in other locations. “NO ONE LEFT BEHIND,” he wrote in one Facebook post.
“It’s all true,” Georgetown’s Saint Frances Animal Center wrote on Facebook. “Tony swooped in at 4am 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. Not the most conventional evacuation, but surely the one with the most heart.”
Alsup drove the dogs and cats to Foley, Alabama, where he and a friend found shelters and foster homes for all 64 animals. As of Sunday night, he was planning to head to Wilmington, North Carolina, hoping to assist another shelter in need.
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