I played a small role in a major rescue effort this week.

Actually, it was the 19th time I have participated in a lifesaving endeavor. But I’m not special – anyone can do it. I’m an animal foster, and the nonprofits I volunteer with are in the midst of a crisis.

My charge this round was a 65-pound Doberman pinscher named Duke, who spent nearly three weeks in my home. This guy was very lucky, as the 7-month-old already had an adoptive family waiting in San Antonio.

Most homeless animals rescued from our streets, and sometimes pulled from undesirable living situations, will be transported to a rescue north of the Rio Grande Valley, where they’re given treatment, love and begin an adoption campaign for their rehoming.

Rescuers are nothing less than angels for these helpless souls.

Enter one more: Jaime Bare, who operates The Bare Bus Rescue Transport, based in San Antonio. The low-cost service picks up Valley animals in a state-of-the-art van with climate monitoring and crates of various sizes, and delivers pets throughout Texas.

Bare has transported more than 10,000 furries in the four years she’s been in operation. She makes frequent trips that begin in McAllen, with stops in Mission and Harlingen, and on to Robstown, then dropping off in south Austin and San Antonio.

Duke was on the Thursday transport to his new family in the Bare Bus. Also aboard were nine “death row” dogs.

The animal rescue situation in the Valley is desperate, says Luv Us, Mutts animal rescue founder Ashli Garza.

“Sadly we are like a third world when it comes to dogs and cats,” Garza said. “Practically every corner has a stray of some sort, vaccinated is few far and in between, and having pets spayed/neutered is almost foreign to most. Therefore, our streets flooded and sadly (there are) only a few to pick up the pieces.”

Garza sees the worst of the worst – dogs left out in the elements and suffering from skin conditions so severe they require months of treatment, infected wounds and untreated injuries. She frequently uses the social media hashtag #HaveAFreaknHeart to encourage people not to look away when they see an animal in need.

“The worst (part of rescue) easily is the condition of these animals and the environment they are forced to endure,” Garza said. “The best by far is seeing the after pics! Either dogs having gone from half dead to running in their new back yard, or from never knowing love to a house full of it.”

So what can the community do?

>> Spay and neuter our pets.

>> Adopt instead of buying from a breeder.

>> Foster.

>> Donate to nonprofits.

“Adopting literally saves a life,” Garza said. “But it’s not to be taken on lightly. Sadly many adopt and are not prepared for the cost and the time, and the pet then ends up back on the street. Spaying and neutering is the key to our local issue.”


Difficult decisions: Animal shelters overwhelmed, Palm Valley loses no-kill status