AUSTIN, Texas - Approximately one month ago, Austin Pets Alive! set out to rescue 1,000 at-risk animals from Texas shelters after winter storms hammered the state, placing additional stress on vulnerable shelters.
Wednesday, an orange tabby cat named ‘Charlie,’ became the 1,000th animal rescued.
"He was at risk of euthanasia in a South Texas shelter. They were hit really hard by the storms. Power and water were recovered. We still had shelters in crisis because there was a huge increase in intake," explained Clare Callison of American Pets Alive!
Charlie and 26 other cats and kittens were loaded onto David Nelson’s private plane at Million Air, in Southeast Austin.
Nelson is a retired orthodontist and veteran. He flew "helicopter gunships in Vietnam."
"I like flying I love animals honestly, it’s just a lot of fun. I mean, it really is. It just makes you feel good.
Nelson says he feels lucky he is able to help APA! This was his third transport for the non-profit. He flew Charlie, and the other animals to Kansas. An APA! spokesperson says the animals will be driven to a rescue partner in Missouri that has a "high-demand" for cats.
"There are a lot of strays and uncared-for animals and I guess they just kind of tug at my heart," said Nelson.
By end of day Wednesday, Callison said APA! will have rescued 1,040 at-risk animals. Still, she says the non-profit’s new interstate rescue initiative will not end with Charlie.
"Texas shelters are definitely still in need. We see it every day and the cold crisis just sort of compounded already, you know, crowded and overburdened under-resourced she