BLOOMINGTON — The Ford E450 Super Duty was purring like a kitten. But really, it was full of dogs.
As the morning sun rose over the Crossroads on the first of July, Megan Arreguin, her family and a crew of volunteers were busy stowing the motor home with crates — and crates, and crates, and crates of animals. Yipping small dogs and woofing big dogs filled any nook and cranny not already occupying by the supplies needed to make their journey safe and comfortable.
Just after 9 am, the RV pulled away from the Arreguin’s Bloomington home and rumbled north, bound for Colorado.
For the pioneering dogs on board, last weekend’s trip was just one leg of dozens of unique journeys. Before finding themselves in Arreguin’s care, some had wandered in city parks. Others were left at a local animal control. More than a few were injured or sick and would have died without the intervention of a veterinarian willing to operate on them — and someone willing to foot the bill.
Making a star
At Port Lavaca Animal Control on the morning of June 20, Arreguin’s diverse skill set was on full display. From moment to moment, she cycled between the roles of diagnostician and talent scout, her trained eye instantly recognizing which dogs she could place in a rescue.
Those that needed shots got them. Arreguin photographed the dogs she “works on” and shares the images on social media to solicit donations. Savvy use of social media channels and a partnership with Cuddly.com — an animals-centric crowdfunding website — bring in funds for everything from medication to toys to gas money for volunteer drivers.
“I’ll get the pictures and then send them out to my partners and say, ‘Hey, anybody want any of these?'” Arreguin said. “And then I’ll get them fully vetted. And then I stack up, fill up for a month, take them out to Colorado, empty, come back home, stack up again, do it all over again.”
The more “viral” a dog goes, the easier it can be to get it the supplies it needs.
For someone with an unmatched enthusiasm for canine welfare, Colorado seems to have a special allure. Arreguin said that a combination of stringent pet regulation and an entrenched culture of responsible pet ownership make the state a uniquely attractive destination for the wayward pups in her charge.
“You go to rescues there,” Arreguin said, rather than animal control. “And where do rescues get their dogs from? Texas, New Mexico, California . . . High kill states.”
But Arreguin said one thing is keeping her in the Crossroads for the time being.
“How would I save South Texas animals?” she asked. “I don’t know that I could put something like that in someone else’s hands.”
The Rescue Queen
Arreguin is hardly the only person in the Crossroads devoted to animal rescue, but she’s developed a reputation through her determination and efficiency.
Tracy Horejsi, an animal control officer with the City of Port Lavaca, said Arreguin’s mettle allows her to cut through red tape and tap new resources to provide things like vaccinations for animal control offices where no budget for them had existed, or the free spay and neuter program she introduced with Crossroads Veterinary Clinic last year.
But Arreguin is quick to give credit — and heap praise — where it’s due. Without Crossroads veterinarian Dr. Mark Besancon, she said, her entire rescue wouldn’t exist.
“No one wanted my volume,” Arreguin said, adding that if there was even a 1% chance of a critically injured animal could be saved, Dr. Mark was willing to operate.
But someone still needs to put money down for the costly operations, and that someone is usually Arreguin.
“I have her in my phone as ‘rescue queen’,” said Melanie Perez, who runs Pappy’s Animal Rescue in Refugio.
More than a few dogs would likely wag their tails in agreement.