Tony Alsup closed the door of his old yellow school bus then hit the gas, fleeing from the dark skies and strong winds that loomed offshore. In the bus seats behind him, confused passengers barked and meowed as they were driven to safety.
To Alsup, these pets were “the leftovers.” Somebody had to save them.
“It’s so easy for people to adopt the small pets and the cuties and the cuddly,” Alsup said, standing next to an old school bus that reeked of wet dog. “We take on the ones that deserve a chance even though they are big and a little ugly. But I love big dogs, and we find places for them.”
Alsup, 51, a trucker from Greenback, Tennessee, drove into South Carolina last week to fill a school bus with dogs and cats from animal shelters in the path of Hurricane Florence, which was bearing down on the Carolina coast. Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm after it made landfall Friday, but strong winds, torrential rain and flood waters have devastated communities and killed at least 11 people.
But on Monday, when the hurricane was still a few days from shore, Alsup drove his school bus to shelters in four South Carolina towns – North Myrtle Beach, Dillon, Georgetown and Orangeburg – loading up 53 dogs and 11 cats and busing them to an awaiting shelter in Foley, Alabama. From there, the pets will be spread to shelters throughout the country, ready to be adopted.