A Tennessee truck driver turned a disused bus into Noah’s Ark on wheels

When natural disasters displace people from their homes, the impact of pets of often forgotten. One big-hearted truck driver prevents this from happening.

Oct 9, 2019 |
3 min read

The 18th Century German philosopher Immanuel Kant memorably claimed that “we can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”

That’s an easy sentiment to get behind – websites like Does the Dog Die (in which moviegoers are warned if their trip to the multiplex will be soured by a canine homicide) exist for a reason, after all.

Let’s be honest, animals often represent the purest form of spirit imaginable. We’re not saying that animals are better than people. Well, maybe they are. We’ve never had our parking spot stolen by a giraffe, or been trolled online by a hippo.

The point is, animals rely on humans more than we realize. In times of crisis, the protection of the animal populace tells us a lot about human nature. This is one of many reasons why Tony Alsup is a bona fide hero.

A one-man pet rescue service

Alsup is a truck driver from Greenback, Tennessee, and an animal lover. Big-hearted rescue missions provide his credentials for the latter status, as he has saved the lives of countless pets that have been left homeless by hurricanes.

Photo by Tony Alsup

Alsup first found his calling 2017, when Hurricane Harvey left a trail of destruction in its wake. This Category 4 hurricane destroyed homes throughout Texas and Louisiana, and as if so often the case in such instances, animals suffered just as much as humans. Shelters were overwhelmed, as pets that had been displaced by the storm sought protection. It was looking increasingly likely that animals would need to be turned away.

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Alsup watched this unfold on the television news, and was horrified by what he saw. Determined to save the lives of these cats and dogs, this big-hearted hero invested in a used bus that became a form of Noah’s Ark on wheels.

The seats of the bus were torn out and replaced by pet carrier crates. Alsup drove to the overcrowded shelters, loaded his van with misplaced animals – alongside food, water, blankets, and first aid supplies – and toured the area, finding shelters with vacant slots that could accommodate these homeless pets.

A Tennessee truck driver turned a disused bus into Noah’s Ark on wheels

Photo by Tony Alsup

Refusing to rest until every animal was rehomed, Alsup could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels. As you can probably imagine, he did nothing of the sort. Tony Alsup is now a form of a full-time animal savior, driving his bus to any territory hit by hurricanes and ensuring that no pet is left behind.

National pet rescue

Alsup’s bus – labeled EARS for Emergency Animal Rescue Service – has been called into action at a number of sites. When Hurricane Irma struck the Florida coast, some people abandoned their pets. This is actually a federal offense, but thankfully Alsup acted as the cavalry.

He rescued as many of these defenseless animals as he was able, and ensured they were rehomed. He also took action after Hurricane Maria wreaked the Virgin Islands, ensuring that the wild horses native to the territory were fed and safe.

Most recently, Tony Alsup has been cleaning up the mess made by Hurricane Florence. This natural disaster had a devastating effect on South Carolina, and Alsup was determined to ensure that no pets lost their lives as a result.

Photo by Tony Alsup

Driving from Tennessee to South Carolina in a bus is no mean feat. Thankfully, Alsup was guided by a flawless and an unstinting sense of purpose. He arrived at around 4am and got straight to work.

Alsup rescued dozens of animals, driving all over the state – and beyond – to find them homes. You don’t need us to tell you that he was successful. Alsup is also clearly a lover of all animals. He agreed to take on sizeable dogs, and those with pre-existing health concerns. Usually, such animals are forgotten in times of duress as they are so tough to rehome.

The story of Tony Alsup is a heartwarming tale of compassion. Thanks to his efforts and determination, countless animals have been given a second chance at life. Many people would have considered the death of animals to be a secondary concern – a sad statistic in the wake of a natural tragedy.

Alsup is cut from a different cloth, and animal lovers all over the world are relieved that this is the case.

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