Arthur woman in U.S. rescuing pets left behind after Hurricane Harvey

Traci Dawson-Growshaw was in Texas helping to rescue and return pets who were left behind by owners after Hurricane Harvey.

'I'm just there to help them,' says Traci Dawson-Growshaw

Traci Dawson-Growshaw found Cobi (pictured) running on the 105 off-ramp in Houston. He was wearing a collar with tags and was reunited with his family within hours. (Traci Dawson-Growshaw)

Whenever a natural disaster occurs, residents fleeing the chaos will often have to leave behind personal items, larger possessions and in many cases, their pets.

So when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi 12 years ago, Traci Dawson-Growshaw knew she had to be there.

Traci Dawson-Growshaw cleans crates at an emergency animal shelter. (Traci Dawson-Growshaw )
The Arthur, Ont., woman founded the Dog Speed Animal Rescue and Transport Society, which helped rescue a number of abandoned pets after the storm. Dawson-Growshaw said that initial trip to New Orleans left her crushed.

"The devastation was completely overwhelming for all of us that went there" she said.

Now, years of doing this kind of rescue work means she is better able to handle the damage that she finds when on these rescue missions.

At the beginning of September, she and her team went to Beaumont, Texas, to rescue several animals that had been left behind after Hurricane Harvey.

"All of it's very difficult, but once you get there and you put your mind to what your task is at hand, it becomes second nature," she said.

'Don't judge'

In many cases, Dawson-Growshaw  said, these are animals that people simply can't take with them in an evacuation, such as a turtle in a tank. She said she knows different circumstances can cause people to leave pets behind after a natural disaster.

"I don't judge these people, because I don't know," she said. "So I'm just there to help them."

Dawson-Growshaw's organization has now sent an assessment team to Florida to determine the need for their services following Hurricane Irma and they are preparing to head down there in the coming weeks if needed.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.