Malibuites Rescue Four-Legged Flood Victims

Two crews from Malibu are now in Texas, helping to rescue and provide care for animals affected by Hurricane Harvey. The first crew, headed by Sherman Baylin of Sherman’s Place pet grooming, has been on the scene since August 31, initially operating near Beaumont, Texas, and providing rescue and basic care and shelter. The second crew, from Malibu Coast Animal Hospital, headed by Dr. Lisa Newell, left on Wednesday of this week to provide free veterinary care for three days. 

Category four Hurricane Harvey made landfall just south of Houston, Texas, on August 25. But the storm system stalled and continued to dump more than 50 inches of rain on the area, causing widespread flooding and evacuations. The victims included not only people, but thousands of pets and farm animals that were abandoned, lost or stranded.

Malibu Coast’s all-volunteer crew, in addition to veterinarian Lisa Newell, consists of administrative assistants, registered veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants (Tenny Crawford, Missy Wiseman, Cynthia Lara, Nicholas Garcia and Betsy Fryan). The crew was assigned to Austin Pets Alive, a city shelter in Austin, Texas, that has received almost 1,000 animals transported from the floodwaters of Houston so far.

Newell reported they received donations of surplus medical supplies from Isabel Fox with the Mending Kids organization and water filters that can be used on buckets of water or tap water bottles from Clean Water Ambassadors. She even found a donor to pay for the crew’s flights to Texas. 

Even though the Malibu Coast crew is arriving almost two weeks after the Hurricane first struck, animals are still coming in, Newell said, and just now beginning to show medical problems that she anticipates will include eye infections, respiratory problems, tick-borne illnesses, heartworm and Giardia infections from drinking contaminated water.

Newell said her first impulse was to leave as soon as the hurricane hit, because she feels so passionately about helping the animals, but said, “I wanted to do it properly—I didn’t want to just show up.” She arranged with the Texas State Veterinary Board to get a temporary license to practice veterinary medicine in the state, and also got in touch with the emergency response team at Texas A&M.


“There are over 100 vets coming to volunteer from out-of-state,” she said. “It’s important to me personally to be able to go, and I have the full support of the hospital. I just want to do something, and I believe in giving back.”

In the meantime, Baylin, along with Lisette Joslynn of Point Dume and many other volunteers, has been helping out in the Beaumont area, rescuing dogs, cats, horses, pigs and goats. Their team is working under the auspices of the nonprofit Rockin’ R Rescue based in Orange, Calif., and Palmer, Texas.

Joslynn wrote that they would have use of a truck, trailer and boat in Texas at a ranch staging area with many other volunteers for animal rescue, but noted that, “We will need a lot of supplies when we arrive. All donations big or small will help us help them.” 

Another Malibu local, Annie Ellis, has also been doing her part for animal rescue by contacting people she knows with horse trailers in various states to go to the flooded areas and help out, working primarily with the Houston SPCA. 

“They need all the help they can get,” Ellis wrote on a local social media site. “People left horses in corrals that are in standing water up to their necks. Dogs on roofs or swimming, you name it! The worst was to tie them up! Wow!”

Dozens of Malibuites pledged support for all of these groups. 

 “It saddens me that people left their animals tied up or in a cage and just left them, or they couldn’t take the pet for some reason,” Lonnie Gordon of Point Dume wrote. “Pets are like members of our family, not just ‘some animal.’ I heard that some rescuers turned back when they found they were rescuing animals and not people. That is inhumane. I am so grateful to those who are helping during this terrible time.”

Donations for the effort being made by Sherman on behalf of Rockin R Rescue can be sent to either one of these crowdfunding sites: GoFundMe or YouCaring.

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