Storm Survivors

On April 27, 2011, a violent, mile-wide tornado ripped through the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The damage was detrimental to the city, its people, and its animals. That day, I watched the footage in horror… as the town I have loved all of my life... was wiped away.

Four of the best years of my life were spent in Tuscaloosa, at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!). I’ve been a lifelong Bama fan… because my parents raised me right. Growing up, we’d go to Tuscaloosa for every football game and event. When the time came to select a college, there was no question where I’d end up. A piece of my heart has always lived in Tuscaloosa.

Following the storm, the Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter proved something that I’ve known all along… they are amazing. A couple of my dear friends work at Tuscaloosa Metro, and they’ve always been there to help me with anything I need. After the storm, the shelter took in well over 1,000 additional animals… more than 5 times their normal capacity. Many pets were found under rubble; many were still chained to trees; and many were severely injured… or dead.

Families were given time to reclaim their pets, and then the shelter began lining up rescues for the remaining animals. However, there are some dogs that the average rescue just won’t take. The senior dogs. The sick dogs. The heartworm positives. The special needs. The Pit Bulls.
The ones deemed “unadoptable.”

For these dogs, Lucky Dog Rescue is often their only hope.

So, I called my sweet friend, Kelley Hill Strickland, and said, “Give me the urgent dogs no other rescue will take.” As always, Kelley was so gracious and appreciative, and she already had 3 special dogs in mind for me. These 3 dogs had each suffered a direct hit from the tornado—while living outside on chains.  Kelley had been desperately trying to find placement for these dogs… but no one wanted them.

Well… almost no one.

I agreed to take these 3 babies as soon as possible, and offered to take any additional dogs she couldn’t place in the coming days. And today, 3 incredible storm survivors came to live with me: Grandma, Mee Maw, and Wink. I’d like you to meet my new foster babies…

Grandma is a 10-year-old, female, Pit Bull mix. Early in her life, Grandma endured a painful, homemade, ear crop procedure, leaving her with hardly any ears at all. Grandma is also a broken-down breeder dog, who’s been forced to deliver litter upon litter of puppies.  To top it off, she’s been restricted to a chain… all 10 years of her life.

Grandma was found in the hardest hit area, which was a bad part of town to begin with. She endured the wrath of the devastating tornado outside on a chain… the chain that she’s called “home” for the last 10 years.

When she was rescued, Grandma was severely emaciated and extremely frightened, but despite her circumstances, she lovingly thanked the volunteers with kisses. At the shelter, Grandma stole everyone’s hearts. It’s rare that a dog feels relieved to be in a shelter… it shows how awful her 10 years must have been.

 Then today, Grandma came to live with me. I was greeted with a joyful smile and a loving kiss, and my heart filled with an insane amount of joy. It was easy to see… that after a lifetime on a chain and surviving a devastating storm… Grandma knew she was finally safe.

Mee Maw
Mee Maw is another 10-year-old storm survivor. She’s a Senior Lab/Hound mix, who is blind in her left eye. The blindness was likely caused by an untreated injury or infection, due to an irresponsible owner. In addition, Mee Maw has been suffering with severe skin issues for quite some time, causing her a great deal of pain and discomfort. Of course, she is also heartworm positive.

Sadly, Mee Maw is yet another broken-down breeder dog, with an abusive past. She has also spent all of her years on a chain. Even more heartbreaking, Mee Maw was left on her chain to face the massive tornado that destroyed her entire neighborhood. The volunteers that found her couldn’t imagine how she even survived.

Mee Maw arrived here today, and I immediately learned about her love of belly rubs. When we met, Mee Maw smiled, rolled onto her back, and begged for the belly rub she’s wished for all her life. I was honored to make her wish come true.

Wink is a 3-year-old, male, Pit Bull Mix. Wink has an eye injury that causes him to “wink” at you. The eye issue is likely due to lack of treatment by an irresponsible owner. Wink is also heartworm positive.

Wink is yet another dog who was chained outside when the tornado struck. Considering the conditions of his surroundings, he shouldn’t be alive today. He was found in a heartbreaking state… afraid, emaciated, and desperate for help. I’m so thankful that Tuscaloosa Metro was there to save him.  

Wink is a special little boy with a tragic past. His eyes reveal the years of abuse and neglect he’s endured. When he arrived, Wink was extremely timid, afraid, and unsure of whether he could trust me.

But within the hour, he was smiling and clinging to my side. That’s the beauty of saving a life… they know what you did for them… and in turn, they share their years of disregarded love and affection… with you.

These are the 3 dogs that no one wanted. Well… almost no one. Before I ever met them, I wanted them. I loved them. And I needed them. Four lives changed today… most of all… mine.

*The state of Alabama and many parts of Mississippi were recently devastated by horrific storms and tornadoes. The city of Tuscaloosa endured unimaginable damage, and they still need your help!

The Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter needs rescue groups, fosters, and adopters for more than 50 dogs and 75 cats (to get their numbers back down to normal capacity). They can also use donations of canned dog and cat food, toys, treats, and blankets. Donations can be mailed to:

Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter
3140 35th Street
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401-5411
(205) 752-9101

**Grandma, Mee Maw, and Wink need loving homes! Click here to fill out the online Adoption Application!


  1. You have a beautiful heart and you have earned your place a heaven! Thank you for rescuing the dogs! I have three pet of my own (two rescues) and I hope to add to brood in the future. You are an inspiration.
    Elaine A. in PA

  2. You are a God-send to these beautiful creatures. Bless You for being there for them. I hope these loving animals find their forever homes quickly. Thank you again for your extreme kindness and love. Kim W. Sherburn, MN

  3. Thank you for being who you are, you are incredible. You never cease to amaze me.

  4. Being an animal lover/advocate myself, I say Bless you for what you do. You are lucky enough to have 3 special angels come to live with you. There must a special reason for the 3 of them to still be here on this earth after everything that they have gone through. I believe the God has spared them to give them each a special loving furever home to live out the rest of their days knowing only love and affection. I will say a prayer for those 3 beautiful souls and for all the other sweet baby's who survived that horrific storm. I wish that I could take all 3 myself as they are beautiful!!

  5. We need more people like you! May you always shine as a person of inspiration!
    Colleen F. in NY

  6. Christina WallbrownJune 4, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    God bless you Ashley! You are an amazing person and an animals best friend!! Thank you!

  7. Karen, Long Island, NYJune 4, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    Such touching stories... I am so glad there is a wonderful person like you in this world Ashley! : )

  8. God Bless you and all of the wonderful people who rescue and hold an openheart for these wonderful dogs.

  9. I am your Fan. Your are the most awesome person I ever heard of. You must be from heaven. I wish I could be more like you in giving myself to poor dogs. Scrappy won't let me. He won't share me. But someday.....

    Deb from Tampa Fl.

  10. Every story is more amazing for your kindness, generosity, and selflessness. I dont know how these poor creature even survived a storm of that magnitude on a chain no less. No storm shelter, no protection. Its truly a miracle they survived.

  11. I am so happy that Grandma, Me Maw and Wink find great forever homes real soon. Thanks to everyone that helped these three dogs. I have a house full right now (4 dogs and one cat) and when the opportunity presents itself my next dog will be another rescue!

  12. God bless you and all of the animal's lives that you have touched. It is rare to find a young person that is not consumed with them self. I applaud all of your work to protect and save animals. Thank God that you are here and do what you do so well. Praying for all devastated by the storms and that all animals find their way to a loving home.

  13. I've tweeted etc. this post -- thanks for saving these guys! Ironic that such a devastating event changed these dogs' lives for the better.

  14. God bless you Ashley... I love my babies and of the 5 , 4 of them are rescues. They bring me joy, happiness, laughter and unconditional love. To take those three angels is truly Gods work. Thank you for the story and the knowledge that they are being loved. You make this world a better place.

  15. Well, i think Grandma is one of the most beautiful dogs i have ever seen. She deserves to live the rest of her life being treated like the elegant senior she is. Thank you Ashley. you are an inspiration~!!

  16. That's the dream I'm working towoard to find away to make reality, to be able to foster and give homes to the ones no one wants. You are an inspiration I found through Daisy Dooley. It is a passion the God has been stirring my heart for, to love and care for his creatures as you are doing. God bless.


  18. Cenla Home Sitters and Personal Assistants are available for pet transport of rescues. We are available for ground transport or air. Service fees are waived. You pay for expenses. 318-201-9961

  19. you are such a wonderful person....so happy i found your blog...for my next birthday i am asking my family to donate to you instead of buying me a gift....and i will continue to donate also...What you do for these animals is the BEST gift anyone could ever give me.


  20. I think there has been a lot of talk about you in the dog community. That is why they are so happy to see you. They know the one person who can save them has arrived.

  21. Terri Tucker(don't know how to sign in a name)

    I LOVE Grandma!!

  22. You are an unbelievably amazing woman. You make my heart burst with joy and love everyone I read one of your rescue stories. God bless you and the life and path you have chose.

  23. Is Grandma doing OK???? She is a bueatiful girl......I am in SO Cal, and I would love to take care of her if I can get the room, will keep checking in on her!

  24. Ashley, you have done it once again!! I've written this to you before, but I have to tell you again. You are living my dream life!! You are a god send for these animals and I love you for it!! Keep up the great work!!! p.s. I hope that your family is doing better after that terrible car wreck. They are in my prayers!! Cheryl H. Hardy

  25. She is being shared on FB trying to find her a home (Grandma) she will always be Valentine to me.

    I wish she would like other dogs, My pit loves other dogs. But then again a two year old may be too much for her.

    We'll keep her going on FB, hopefully she find a home.

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