Letrice “Cat” Haggard-Gowdy and her husband have been dropping off blankets with stray animals in Lubbock for years. As temperatures started dipping lower and lower this weekend, she knew she had to do more.
“With the weather getting really bad, I knew these dogs were going to die if we didn’t do something,” said Haggard-Gowdy. “They’re just not going to make it.”
As Texas was hit with the coldest weather it’s seen in more than a century, Haggard-Gowdy decided to start a Facebook page called Operation Warmth: Cat’s Dog House Giveaway to Freezing Dogs. Making it her mission to rescue as many strays as possible, she was able to organize totes and straw to make shelter for pets, gather donations of doghouses and beds, and donate food to pet owners that might need it.
In some cases, she’s tried to find fosters for animals who don’t have owners. Late Monday nights, with temperatures already below freezing, Haggard-Gowdy and her husband found six abandoned puppies and a cat on a snow-covered country road. She went to Facebook live, pleading with viewers to help get the animals in a safe home.
“We need your help you guys, they’re precious babies,” Haggard-Gowdy said in her video.
Even though it is against Texas law for owners to leave pets outside unattended in freezing temperatures, both the Lubbock Police Department and Lubbock Animal Services received call after call about animals in the cold.
Over the weekend, LPD received 26 calls about the matter. Since Friday, LAS had 543 calls from residents and 186 of those were welfare checks, cruelty complaints and tethering violations.
“That’s a really high-call volume for us,” said LAS Director Steven Greene. “Especially with the welfare checks.”
Haggard-Gowdy had noticed that LAS had a lot of calls to respond to, and that’s when she amped up her efforts even more.
“It seemed like they were so overwhelmed that we weren’t getting much response from them, so we decided to take things into our own hands,” Haggard-Gowdy said. “Now, with the weather getting really bad, I knew these dogs were going to die if we didn’t do something.”
The makeshift houses Haggard-Gowdy has made are simple to create - all that’s needed are two totes, one slightly smaller so it can fit inside the other, and straw as insulation around the inside tote, with a hole cut in front so the animal can fit inside and a towel or blanket for cushion.
Haggard-Gowdy quickly garnered support from residents outside of Lubbock, too. She says all of the donations have been from people on Facebook and word of mouth.
“I have someone Amazon-ing me a doghouse from another state,” Haggard-Gowdy said. “I had somebody contact me from Australia, and I’m like ‘How did Australia get to me?”
As long as LAS is overwhelmed with calls though, Haggard-Gowdy will keep doing what she loves - helping.
“Lubbock citizens are going to have to step it up and help these strays, or they’re not going to make it in the cold weather.”