San Diego was “Flooded with Love” last week when local organization Thrive Animal Rescue brought 67 dogs saved from the devastating floods in Louisiana on a Wings of Love freedom flight. The animals arrived on Friday, Sept. 23 at Gillespie Field and will be up for adoption into forever homes in a week.
Thrive Animal Rescue was founded two and half years ago by Cece Bloum, who has lived on her Carmel Valley Newmarket Farms for over 20 years.
Thrive’s biggest-ever rescue effort began after Bloum’s friend Jan Percival-Lipscomb and her daughter Shaney, a senior at Cathedral Catholic traveled to Louisiana to volunteer to help after the flood with her daughter.
Percival-Lipscomb said because it wasn’t a hurricane event and it just didn’t stop raining, many areas that never flooded were unexpectedly filled with water and people had to pack up their cars and race for their lives. A lot of animals got left behind.
For three “life-changing” days, mother and daughter worked in an animal shelter.
“I don’t think a lot of people in San Diego were aware of the devatstation and the impact on people, and on pets,” Percival-Lipscomb said, who contacted Thrive to continue to help. “I know that Thrive is so big-hearted and willing to go out on a limb. I knew they would take a chance, and they did.”
Thrive put a short video together and posted it on their social media accounts to try and raise funds to help animal flood victims. Bloum said they were “flooded with love and donations” and were able to cover the costs of a flight from the Wings of Love Rescue, which transports animals from overcrowded shelters all over the country to new, loving homes.
Once they had the flight, several local animal rescues stepped up to help take in dogs including Encinitas’ Rancho Coastal Humane Society, Labradors and Friends Rescue, SPOT Rescue and Animal Samaritans.
In addition to taking dogs, Rancho Coastal Humane Society also offered to spay and neuter all of the animals.
Bloum traveled last week to Lafayette, Louisiana with her Thrive volunteers Susie Saladino and Olivia Cameron, “joining paws” with a Labs and Friends volunteer whose family’s home was impacted by the floods and a local rescue group called Acadiana Animal Aid.
“Those women are the real heroes,” Bloum said of Acadiana, whose daily mission, floods or not, is rescuing thousands of animals from high-kill shelters in Louisiana with 90 percent euthanasia rates and transporting them across the country. “They’re unbelievable, they do all of the medical treatments on the animals before they send them out. It was life-changing to see what they do.”
By the time the Thrive ladies had arrived, the flood waters had receded but so many animals had been displaced. As over 100,000 people had lost their homes, many had to make the decision to sacrifice their family pets.
“It is a heartbreaking situation for everyone involved,” Bloum said.
Of the 67 dogs, Thrive is taking 19, Rancho Coastal is taking 18 including all of the big dogs, Animal Samaritans and Labradors and Friends are each taking five and Spot Animal Rescue is taking 20 puppies, including a mother and her five-week-old litter of ten.
All of their medical work was completed by Acadiana prior to their arrival and Rancho Coastal will handle the spay and neuter surgeries, making the dogs available for adoption in about a week. Bloum encourages anyone interested in adopting the dogs to fill out an application at thriveanimalrescue.com. The website will have a link to a Flooded with Love page with all of the organizations’ available animal — all of the groups plan to ensure that the animals are carefully placed in the right homes.
Bloum said she has seen some push-back about their mission online, with people commenting that there are plenty of dogs in San Diego that need help. She said San Diego and Southern California shelters are much different than those in Louisiana, who have nearly no outreach and zero percent adoption rates, which makes Acadiana’s work so important. In San Diego, it’s very rare that a healthy, adoptable dog is euthanized.
“It was eye-opening,” said Bloum. “We arrived at 1:15 p.m. at one rural shelter and saved two dogs from their scheduled 2 p.m. euthanasia that were amazing, amazing dogs. The friendliest, cutest dogs. That doesn’t happen here.”
“Of course, we will continue to help animals here, we’re never going to stop,” Bluom said. “We’ve never done anything like this before and it felt really good.”