The devastation being caused by floods in Houston and southern Texas since April 2016 has forced thousands of families to flee their homes. And when rivers rose above record levels, a news team went out to cover the story and ended up rushing into action to rescue a trapped dog in the floodwaters.
On May 31 the Bravos River in Rosenberg, Texas, breached its banks and forced people to leave their homes. However, some pet owners had left town without knowing that the flood would hit, leaving their pets at home alone. And for safety reasons they weren’t allowed back to save their animals after the river crested.
Rescue workers and good Samaritans alike took to helping the furry flood victims, including this dog C-Lisa. She kept her head high as the muddy water rose around her, but because she was chained to her dog house, she couldn’t swim away.
Just when it looked like the water would soon go over her nose, the canine met her guardian angels. Just in the nick of time, a local news crew in an an airboat spotted the helpless dog and came to her rescue.
KPRC reporter Phil Archer and volunteer Jeff Shimek jumped from the boat to free C-Lisa from her chain, while volunteer Richard Allen, Sheriff Troy E. Nehls and photographer Jeovany Luna all pitched in to help. Without a doubt, their timely intervention saved the dog’s life.
“It could have been a matter of minutes or a matter of hours, but she [C-Lisa] wouldn’t have lasted very much longer,” a worker at the Houston Humane Society told CNN. The crew were overjoyed to save her, but she wasn’t the only animal stuck in the floodwater.
“This is infuriating. These residents will get a visit from me when they return,” wrote Sheriff Nehls Facebook. “On this particular day we brought out around 10.” He also uploaded pictures of another dog struggling in the floods and some witnesses even spotted horses in the rising waters.
And it wasn’t the last time the crew would be heroes. Allen, Shimek and Nehls found and saved five more dogs when they made a trip back to the flooded neighborhood.
Unfortunately, few people paid attention to the water level warnings when they were first issued, despite the warnings of the authorities. “This level of water in the river has not been seen in many of our lifetimes and we urge residents to heed these warnings,” said Fort Bend County emergency management coordinator Jeff Braun.
Shockingly, the river’s height exceeded the previous record held in 1994 by several feet. This time the river reached an historical height of 55 feet, with as much as five feet of water inundating many homes. Abandoned pets and livestock have been struggling to keep their heads above water and find higher ground.
C-Lisa was one of the lucky ones. She was soaked through and incredibly cold after being submerged in the deluge, but her rescuers took her to the Houston Humane Society (HSS) for treatment.
The rescued pooch was given a medical check-up and found to be suffering from common doggy afflictions, fleas and heartworms, but she was in otherwise good health and none the worse off for her terrifying experience. “Just picked up this sweet dog… She was minutes away from drowning,” HHS wrote on their Facebook page.
“She’s headed back to the shelter now for some much needed R&R. We’re going to get her cleaned up, fed (although I hear the Sheriff shared a ham sandwich with her earlier), vaccinated, and settled in for the night,” they added.
The Houston Humane Society initially put C-Lisa up for adoption, but one of her rescuers came forward to take her home. Sheriff Nehls decided to make her his deputy dog.
“Thank you all for your support and concern for her,” Nehls wrote on his post. “The only water she’ll be in now is my pool!” The announcement was applauded by followers of the story, who showered Nehls and the rest of the crew with well-deserved compliments and thanks for their actions.
KPRC did eventually track down the dog’s previous owner: 62-year-old Mario Gallardo, a man of ill health and a history of heart disease. Gallardo is on dialysis and suffers from diabetes, which has also cost him one of his legs.
Reporter Phil Archer – the same one who jumped into the floods to save the dog – asked Gallardo if he’d told authorities about his dog. “I didn’t tell them [about] the dog,” he replied. “I told them I needed to get some stuff out, which was the dog. They wouldn’t let me. They just told [me] ‘No, you gotta go.’ So I left.”
“The next day that’s when [the water level] got up real high. And that’s the day I was doing dialysis,” he continued. “When I left here, never in a million years could I guess it was going to come up this high.” Gallardo says he left some chairs for the dog to use to climb to higher ground, to a place she normally goes even when it’s dry. Consequently, he was surprised that rescuers had found her trapped in the water.
But considering the state of repairs he will need to do on his house now after the flood damage, his dog is the least of his worries. “What am I going to do with her now? They find somebody to keep her, good, I don’t mind,” said Gallardo.
The Nehls family renamed the dog Archer, after the reporter who helped save her. And if that weren’t enough, Archer now has new doggy friends to play with and gets as many hugs and cuddles from her new family as she could ever want.