Volunteers in Flood Ravaged Brazil Town Save Dogs Left Behind

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

"One Less" rallies those helping to reunite dogs with owners.

Photo Credit: Ryan Brix / Shutterstock.com

One might think that rain would be a welcome relief in regions where sun and draught can wipe out crops and bring unbearable heat. Not so much in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul region, where they received a whopping three months’ worth of the wet stuff in just two weeks. Major flooding displaced over 500,000 residents and, when pets are involved, they tend to fall short on the priority list for rescuers trying to evacuate a desperate population.

But it’s when tragedy strikes that the heroes appear, and in this case, it’s a group of almost 200 volunteers who recognized Brazil’s much-loved four-legged population was also struggling to survive. Creating a makeshift shelter in an abandoned warehouse, they brought in the lost, sick, and injured dogs that pet parents had been forced to leave behind. Their goal? To treat, feed, shelter, and ultimately reunite the frightened pooches with their families once the waters receded and residents returned home.

With warehouse square footage estimated to be the size of a soccer field, their ability to help accommodate what is estimated to be thousands of misplaced pets has had a profound impact on this area’s canine community. Organizers estimate that between 20 and 30 dogs arrive every hour. Every. Single. Hour!

So, how do you even begin to care for these numbers? Especially when you’re dealing with anxious animals, a wide range of temperaments, and hunger remaining top of mind for these critters. Volunteers separate and tether the dogs and, because they can’t provide individual bowls for each dog, food is continually scattered throughout the compound. So, everyone eats. For dogs that arrive with injuries, a local vet has been identified to help out.

What buoys the spirit of so many volunteers? Returning residents are allowed to wander throughout the makeshift shelter in search of their missing pet and when that special moment arrives and a dog is reunited with his family, the shout of “one less” echoes throughout the compound. This is when the volunteers pause, and then applaud. And I hope, they also pat themselves on the back!

As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child” and in this instance, its a village of volunteers pulling together is what makes this rescue operation a resounding success. According to lead organizer Gabriel Cardoso da Silva, social media is what kicked this local effort into full gear. “Sunday, we had 10 volunteers, now we have 200. We have tons of food. Our community chose to embrace this, but days ago we felt so alone.”

With more rains to come but awareness growing, these cape-less heroes are both cautious yet confident they can take whatever comes their way.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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