The Update: Redemption Dogs Goes To Houston

As of writing this, we’ve made it to over $21,800 on our GoFundMe campaign and the outpouring of support we’ve received from Toronto and around the world has been overwhelming. From the volunteers to everyone who has donated both needed items and monetarily – We can’t thank you enough. But we’re just getting started!

We wanted to update you all on our progress so far, let you know the plan, and answer a few of the common questions we’ve been getting over the last few days.

Generally speaking, here’s the plan so far: The envoy of three vans and six volunteers is leaving Thursday, September 7th. Two coordinators (including founder, Nicole Simone and coordinator, Katherine Wellman) will remain in Toronto to oversee the team and placement of the dogs when they arrive in Toronto.

The Houston bound crew will meet up with our partner, Natalie Freshour from Hot Mess Pooches, when they arrive. Together, they will remove all humanitarian goods and pet supplies from the vehicles and will load up the dogs into their crates in the vans for their journey home.

The crew and dogs will arrive back in Toronto on either the 11th or 12th. Of course their arrival date depends on how smoothly both the Houston visit and the trip home goes. When the dogs arrive they will be put in quarantine and given a chance to settle. 

Now, to answer a few of the questions we’ve been seeing:

What do you still need for donations and where are the drop off locations?

Here’s what we’re looking for right now for the dogs we’re bringing back with us:

Cleaning supplies (including laundry detergent & Nature’s Miracle, Rescue Remedy, pheromone filters)
Bedding, sheets, and towels
Poop bags
Leashes and slip leads
Blue shop towels or regular paper towels

Unfortunately we can’t transport dog food cross border.

We’re also looking for humanitarian supplies for donation to bring down to the people of Houston. Here’s what the Houston Food Bank has specified that they are looking for:

Canned ready-to-eat items with pull tops: vegetables, fruit
Protein in pouches or pull-top cans: tuna, beef stew, chili, canned chicken
Peanut butter
Snacks: granola bars, breakfast bars, etc.
Paper goods
Cleaning supplies: mops, mop buckets, brooms, bleach wipes, bleach, garbage bags, Bug spray

Anything not on this list that is donated will unfortunately not be taken with us.

Donations can be dropped off at:

TruRating – 366 Adelaide St E Suite 241 (8am to 6pm on Tuesday & 8am – 4pm on Wednesday)
Queen & Dufferin
Yonge & Eglinton
Dog Father 1007 Yonge St., Toronto (Summerhill)

If you’d like to donate any of the above items, please email Nicole to get specific dates, times, and addresses for drop offs. We’re leaving on Thursday, September 7, early in the morning, so we need all donations in by the afternoon on Wednesday, September 6, at the latest.

How are the funds being used?

Approximately 10% of the funds will be spent on van rentals and travel costs. The largest portion of our expenses is going towards medical care for the dogs. And of course, we’re leaving funds with Hot Mess Pooches to cover the costs incurred by Hurricane Harvey.

The volunteers have not only donated their vacation time for this trip, but much of their own resources. We’ve also received a ton of donations to help us transport the dogs – crates, blankets, cleaning supplies, etc.

Where are the dogs coming from?

Before Hurricane Harvey, Houston had an estimated one million homeless dogs. The hurricane has left many more dogs dead and displaced. Not to mention, the Houston based rescues who have been trying to help them have had their property destroyed and their  lives heavily impacted by the storm.

We are taking dogs that were in rescue with Hot Mess Pooches and other rescues before the storm. Some of the dogs have been waiting to be adopted since 2015. We are in no way going into the street and picking up stray dogs. We are following a strict protocol and have no intentions of rehoming a dog that might already have a family searching for it.

What about Canadian dogs?

Our founder, Nicole Simone, has been involved in the Canadian dog rescue scene since 2006. All Canadian dogs and rescue organizations, including that which support northern dogs, have always been a central focus for Redemption Dogs. None of that will change with this mission. We felt at this time we had an opportunity and the resources to help Houston, as well as a partner of ours – Natalie, from Hot Mess Pooches, who has been directly affected.

You can hear a conversation from earlier this year with Nicole and Houston rescue, Hot Mess Pooches on the Redemption Dogs Podcast

What types/breeds of dogs are you taking in?

We are bringing 30+ dogs back to Toronto. We will be taking dogs in need, as well as dogs with disabilities. We believe that all dogs, no matter what age or breed/mix deserve a home.
Unfortunately, due to Ontario’s breed specific legislation ban, we are not able to take in dogs that might be targeted by the provincial law. If you are a bully lover, we ask in turn that you consider fostering for Bullies In Need, who help Ontario pit bulls get to safety.

What is heartworm and is it contagious?

Heartworm is a major concern for the dogs coming into rescue from Houston. So we wanted to give a quick overview on the illness.

What is heartworm? Dirofilaria immitis, the heartworm or dog heartworm, is a parasitic roundworm that is spread through the bites of mosquitoes. The heartworm is a type of filarial worm, a small thread-like worm, that causes filariasis. The symptoms of heartworm can be found here. 

Heartworm is only spread by mosquito bites. It can not be spread dog to dog.

The infinitesimal increase in risk is that a dog could infect a mosquito that could transmit to another dog, but as soon as the infected dog gets a heart worm preventative tab, risk is zero. Dogs who are already on heartguard medication are always protected.  So these dogs offer zero issue of transmitting the parasite.

Heartworm is spreading into northern states and provinces because of climate change; warmed climates mean bugs have more room to travel. You can learn more about that here.

Heartworm can be successfully eliminated in dogs with proper treatment, however, in Canada, it can cost as much as $2000 per dog. We want to be as prepared as possible for medical needs.

What if Irma hits Houston?

If Irma hits Houston, we will reschedule our trip until it is safe to travel.

Can I adopt?

We are currently not taking adoption applications. The dogs will be up for adoption but they will be quarantined and need to be assessed to find the best home for them. The dogs will not be adopted out of province, and primary consideration will be given to homes in the Toronto/GTA area. The reason for this is that we want the dogs to be within a reasonable distance if at any point in their lives they need assistance again. They can always count on us.

We will be looking for homes who are adopting based on personality/how they fit over people who are just seeking breed specific dogs.

Can I foster?

We are accepting foster inquiries in the GTA/Toronto currently. Email Nicole with a bit about you and your location.

How can I stay informed?

The best way is to follow us on social media and sign up for our newsletter here

And of course, here’s a link to our GoFundMe page if you can help us financially.


  1. Megan Reply

    Hoping you will consider adoption by people looking for specific breeds/mixes. Why not? 15-20lb cockapoo is my interest based on my lifestyle, environment, physical ability
    Thx and Good Luck

  2. Jacki Gonzalez Reply

    Hello my name is Jacki,
    I would be glad to adopt one of the puppies from Houston. Either black labs that I have seen on TV or the little small breeds. Already have a loving lab in our care neudtered. Who is 1 1/2 years old and needs a playmate.

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