If it’s raining cats and dogs, well, expect Tony Alsup.
The 51-year-old truck driver has been crisscrossing the Carolinas this week in an old yellow school bus, rescuing stray cats and dogs and transporting animals to safety from overflowing animal shelters.
He has rescued at least 53 dogs and 11 cats so far, he told The Greenville News, emptying out four shelters in the path of Florence, which was downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall on Friday, and moving them to a shelter in Alabama, where they’ll be distributed ― and adopted ― across the country.
Alsup bought the bus for $3,200 with his own money about a year ago, prompted by a miscommunication after he offered to help move shelter animals in his semi during Hurricane Harvey.
He had expected to drive with a dog or two up front with him in the cab of the big rig; shelters had lined up enough animals to fill the whole trailer.
“You’ve got to be very careful what you say on social media man,” Alsup told the News, “but I’m a man of my word. If I give you my word, it’s gonna get done.”
So he bought a school bus, and he has been helping out in every large storm since. In addition to Florence and Harvey, Alsup also lent his support when hurricanes battered Florida and Puerto Rico last year.
The shelters are grateful, to say nothing of the animals that had been left behind.
“It’s all true — Tony swooped in at 4am Wednesday morning to pick up our ‘leftovers’ — the dogs with blocky heads, the ones with heartworm,” the St. Francis Animal Center wrote on Facebook late Sunday. “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.”