Puppies In Peril

Friday, May 20, 2011 - 2:59pm

Animal shelter helping dogs displaced by recent storms and floods.

Sebastian and Sabien are playful, rambunctious puppies-and also the best of friends.

The two forged their bond in northern Georgia, after tornados destroyed their homes and separated them from their families.

"They are clearly not the same age, not the same size, not the same breed, and they found each other, wandering down the road with nowhere to go," said Pam Backer, director of shelter operations at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, Florida.

The two dogs, along with 24 other puppies, arrived at the Humane Society on Tuesday.

They were all rescued by the HAND Foundation, an organization that transports animals from shelters where they might be euthanized to places where they have a better chance of being adopted.

"We understand that when there's nowhere to go and the road has come to an end, you have to do something," said Backer.

This is just the first batch of puppies the Humane Society expects to rescue from natural disasters.

Another 50 dogs are set to arrive from flooded areas in Mississippi on Friday.

Backer said it's unusual to see extreme weather displace so many animals, but she thinks this is just the beginning.

"This just seems to be so close, the Georgia and Mississippi tornado and floods," she said. "I hope it ends real soon, but because of the severe flood, I suspect that we will be asked to continue to help and take more animals in the coming weeks."

The dogs are a mix of breeds, including hounds and terriers. Some are litter mates.

And others, like Sebastian and Sabien, are just good friends.

Backer said she'd like to see the two puppies adopted together.

"Puppies are very resilient," she said. "If they experience something traumatic, those two probably have the edge, because they've had each other to cling to during the whole ordeal."

The first group of available dogs went up for adoption at noon Thursday.

Cindy Henriquez drove from her home in Pasco County first thing in the morning.

She came to see a beagle named April that she saw online the night before.

"First I saw her picture and then I read that she survived the Georgia tornado, so I was like, 'I have to rescue her,'" she said.

She hoped to have the puppy to take home in time to meet her 6-year-old son after school.

"I haven't told him. It's a surprise," she said. "So, hopefully, when he gets off the bus, I'll be there with her."

Backer expects more of these puppies will be available for adoption Friday and Saturday.

She said the Humane Society also is looking for food donations.

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