ST. LOUIS - A small group of volunteers have just returned from Texas. They went there prepared to help care for pets left homeless after Hurricane Harvey, and they didn't come back empty handed.
The past seven days have been long, emotional, but rewarding for newlyweds Isabel and Randell Shrouder.
"I'm from Texas and I love animals," said Isabel. "So I told my husband one night, 'I have to go down there and do something.'"
"Happy wife, happy life," said Randell. "So whatever she wanted I was prepared to support her every step of the way."
The Fairview Heights couple posted their mission on Facebook. They gathered donations to take along and hooked up with Needy Paws Rescue from St. Louis.
"It was overwhelming for sure, but it was heartwarming too," said Isabel. "To see everyone come together and have the same passion for animals that we did and want to help."
So they loaded up food and supplies in a donated delivery truck with helper April Belangee, then headed south.
"From St. Louis they wanted to help Texans and that was really amazing to see," said Isabel.
Along the way they talked about what they might encounter, but nothing prepared them for what they found.
"It was really devastating to see and the animals that needed help were hard to see," said Isabel. "And to know that some of them were not going to make it."
The Shrouders and two Needy Paws volunteers spent days cleaning cages, feeding and watering hundreds of animals left homeless after Hurricane Harvey.
"I'm a huge dog lover and all you want to do is go in and help them," said Randell. "Whatever they needed, we did."
A couple of days ago, they loaded up 17 dogs surrendered by their owners and started the journey home.
"A lot of them need some good medical care and such, but I have faith that they're all going to be okay," said Isabel. "But I know that they all know that they were saved and they're going to live happier from now on."
Volunteers with Needy Paws Rescue, like Bonnie Lewis, are going to make sure of it.
"I have no doubt that these dogs will have amazing homes that's what we do," said Lewis. "And Needy Paws finds them great homes and forever homes, they'll never be homeless or hungry again."
Exactly what the Shrouders were hoping for.
"It was tough, it was long, but every bit of it, I'd do it again," said Randell.
If you're interested in adopting a dog rescued from Texas, visit Needy Paws Rescue's website at needypaws.org.
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