Luna is one of the dogs rescued by Helping Paws Okanagan. She has since been adopted. (Helping Paws Okanagan)

Luna is one of the dogs rescued by Helping Paws Okanagan. She has since been adopted. (Helping Paws Okanagan)

Eleven dogs rescued; transported from Texas to the Okanagan despite pandemic

Helping Paws Okanagan rescued 11 dogs from Texas on March 28

Eleven dogs from Houston, Texas who needed homes are now safe and sound with their new Okanagan families thanks to a Penticton-based rescue organization.

Lesley Chapman, the founder of Helping Paws Okanagan, worked with a shelter in Houston, Texas — where she said there is a large number of abandoned dogs.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S.-Canada closed to stem the spread of the virus, which worried Chapman as she didn’t know if she would still be able to pick up 11 dogs scheduled to be transported from Texas to Washington on March 28.

She said she was so worried the guards wouldn’t let her through that she drove down to the States a week earlier than planned.

“But they told me at the border I’m doing commercial work, so I was let through. I stayed in Wenatchee until the dogs arrived,” she said.

Chapman said she was prepared and had measures to promote physical distancing with her colleague from Texas, as well as the other adopters who came down to Washington to pick up the dogs from her.

“I cleaned everything everybody touched, and I bought a whole bunch of new collars and disinfected them. When the transporter came, we took each dog and gave each one a wash.”

Fortunately, Chapman said all the dogs were able to meet their new families and go home.

“In the beginning, it was a lot of preparing and panicking and trying to find people in Washington who would be able to foster because, at that point, I didn’t know if the adopters would even be able to get through the border,”

“But it all did come together, with people in Washington state helping and adopters being able to pick up their dogs because dog rescue is part of essential work.”

She added that she’s seeing more and more requests for adoptions as people look for companions while they isolate at home.

Now, Chapman is in quarantine for the next 14 days, but she did say there are more dogs that need to be adopted. She may be at home, but the work continues as she coordinates adoptions for some of the dogs and working to schedule when she can next go down to Texas.

READ MORE: Helping Paws Okanagan worries about being able to bring dogs home as borders close

READ MORE: BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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