MATTHEWS — Daniela Angelon has long been involved in efforts to help animals but the co-owner of Barks and Blooms Dog Walking and Pet Care didn’t have any experience driving large rental trucks.
Hurricane Florence changed all that, however.
In the aftermath of Florence, Angelon has helped lead an effort that has delivered around 30,000 pounds of dog, cat and horse food to eastern North Carolina. Most of the relief effort was centered in and around Lumberton, a place where Angelon called home for 18 years before going off to college.
Many people across the affected areas abandoned their pets while other people were displaced from their homes by flood waters and needed help caring for their pets.
“I know the area well and I am a huge animal lover anyway,” Angelon said. “I have been a rescue volunteer for a long time here in the Charlotte area. Since I am so well connected to the area, I knew what the needs were there. I knew where to go and where to take it. I just felt I needed to do something about it. People really needed things.”
Angelon has driven some of the truckloads of donations from area businesses herself, starting out with a mid-sized rental truck before switching to larger trucks that could handle all the pet food. That was an experience, she said.
“I had never driven a big truck like that before,” Angelon said. “We had a short learning curve, but we got it done.”
Angelon’s first trip to Lumberton was challenging, as flood waters, downed trees and power lines made travel difficult through the entire area.
“The first load was pretty difficult,” Angelon said. “Most of the roads were closed, and I-95 had been shut down. Most of the major roads around Lumberton were completely impassable. The only way that I got there was because I knew locals that lived there and they told me what back roads to take. It took us most of the day to get down there on our first trip. We did have to have a police escort to get to the Robeson County Humane Society because the road we had to take was partially under water.”
Owning Barks and Blooms has allowed Angelon to use her contacts in the business to gather donations for the rescue effort. Some of the donations came from Rescue Bank, Pet Wants-The Urban Feed Store and Hollywood Feed.
“It didn’t start out as a big effort but I reached out to a lot of people,” Angelon said. “I am a member of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce and I reached out to them to spread the word. It really grew into this huge effort. In the end, we are still delivering our last loads. It was overwhelming all the support we got. It turned into a huge effort. As long as we are still getting donations, we are still bringing them there.”
Angelon did a lot of the work from her Matthews home. Her next-door neighbor, Collen Camp, knew immediately that something was up.
“I have known her for around 10 years and she is the person, if there is a lost dog in the neighborhood or if there is animal that has been hit, she is the person that stops and helps,” Camp said. “I have seen her with a basket of puppies that needed homes. So, she came over and said, ‘If you see these giant Penske trucks, I am not moving. I’m just getting some supplies because Lumberton is a mess.’ She is an animal angel. It’s not just her, but she is the glue.”
Angelon didn’t return to Matthews empty-handed every time either.
“We did bring back a group of kittens we are trying to find a home for,” Angelon said. “We still have them in our care and we are fostering them. We took them to the vet yesterday, so we have our hands full.”
With Hurricane Michael taking aim at some of the same parts of state that were impacted by Florence, Angelon may have to gear up rescue efforts again.
“If there is another need, we will do it all over again,” Angelon said. “We will be happy to help moving forward.”
To help, go to http://nc.barksand blooms.com/contact-north-carolina-dog-walking-services/.