As Hurricane Florence began its descent on the Carolinas and Virginias, animal rescues and shelters in southern states scrambled to relocate thousands of animals directly in the path of the storm. Ruff Start Rescue, a Princeton-based animal rescue, stepped up to help some of the dogs that needed to be moved to remain safe.

Ruff Start welcomed 36 dogs to Minnesota on Saturday, Sept. 29, and will be putting them up for adoption once altered and current on vaccinations. The Hurricane Florence dogs arrived along with many others who were already scheduled to come up from an overcrowded shelter in Houston, Texas.

“These are dogs that are down south in high-kill shelters, they’re overpopulated and about half of them were supposed to be transported over to the East Coast,” said Azure Davis, executive director and founder of Ruff Start Rescue. Because of the anticipated impact of the hurricane, Ruff Start Rescue agreed to take the animals.

Ruff Start Rescue has also partnered with a Houston-based organization called Houston PetSet, with which Ruff Start worked closely on this latest transport.

Davis said Houston PetSet helped to raise funds and coordinate the transport to Minnesota.

This transport was paid for and sponsored by the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation.

“Whenever we can help, we will,” Davis said. “The reality of the situation is that without transportation out of the southern states, these poor animals won’t stand a chance. They need us to advocate for them and literally save their lives. So we will absolutely help as many as we can.”

Ruff Start Rescue is always looking for more people willing to provide a foster home for the dogs while they wait to be adopted.

“We need fosters. We need fosters all throughout central Minnesota. Fostering is free and Ruff Start provides all the vet care, we provide all of the supplies, anything that fosters would need, we provide them,” Davis said.

Ruff Start also accepts support in the form of donations toward animals’ care. For more information, go to

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