Deborah Hoffman: Dog Advocate, CNN Hero Nominee

Houston, Texas — In the scorching summer heat, Deborah Hoffman can be found patrolling a section of Houston, Texas, that she’s dubbed “The Corridor of Cruelty.”

“It’s basically a dumping ground for live and dead animals,” said Hoffman. The corridor — an area more than a mile wide where abused dogs are abandoned — is located in northeast Houston near the Little York exit off U.S. 59 (Eastex Freeway). “One of the saddest cases is when I come across one in a large green Hefty [trash] bag,” said Hoffman. “Some of the dogs that we find in the bags … [have] some serious wounds … most likely from dog fighting.”

Hoffman, 52, started the nonprofit Corridor Rescue, and for nearly two years, she and her team of volunteers have been rescuing dogs from this area and shedding light on the neglect of these animals. In Texas, it is a criminal offense to abandon dogs, according to Assistant District Attorney Belinda Smith. As a result of Hoffman’s efforts, Smith says her office has filed criminal cases against people who have dumped their dogs. “Deborah not only brought the problem to our attention, but she takes it a step further — she tries to find homes for animals that have been dumped,” said Smith.

Separately, in November 2008, Houston executed the largest dog fighting sting in the country to date, said Smith. As a result, 60 people were convicted and 168 dogs were seized.

Hoffman has been involved in animal welfare for years and first came in contact with the corridor as a volunteer for a rescue group in 2006. Within a couple of months she rescued six dogs from the area. A return visit in August 2008 moved her to rally her community for help. On a tip from a friend, she went back to the area to search for a pregnant dog in need of

“I took my 12-year-old daughter with me, and we spent the afternoon driving this neighborhood,” said Hoffman. “[We] both literally were in tears by the end of our journey.”

Soon after, those tears turned to action. Hoffman sent out a mass e-mail to fellow animal lovers begging for help. “[I] said … ‘We have an absolute atrocity going on day-in and day-out. And I’m calling this place The Corridor of Cruelty. There [are] animals scrounging around for food constantly. They’re running in ditches with broken legs, broken bodies, pregnant. People, come out and help.”

Many heeded the call, and Hoffman and her “active army,” as she calls it, started waging war on the corridor.

In addition to the district attorney’s office, Hoffman’s efforts have gotten the ear of city council members, mayoral candidates and the police department, which set up cameras in the corridor to try to capture people dumping animals. The group also educates community members about anti-cruelty laws and spaying and neutering their pets. Once rescued, the dogs are taken to a vet before they’re placed with a foster family or another rescue group.
“We literally are in a crisis here in Houston,” said Hoffman. “Enough is enough in the corridor. Things have got to change.”

Hoffman and her group have set up 18 feeding stations throughout the area. Volunteers fill the bowls of food and water at each station six days a week, laying out a total of 600 pounds of food a week. “We are keeping animals alive until we can get to some of them and bring them to safety,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman coordinates all of the rescues. Some dogs come up to the volunteers and want to jump in their vehicles; others are afraid, so Hoffman and two other designated volunteers trap them using snares and slip leads, among other means. While the corridor is safe for volunteers during the day, said Hoffman, the group’s protocol is to never be out there after dark, even though no one has ever been bitten or attacked by a dog, she said.

Once rescued, the dogs are taken to a vet to be treated before they are placed with a foster family or other rescue group. Hoffman often tries to place dogs before they are rescued. While in the field, volunteers photograph the dogs, and Hoffman e-mails the images to her group’s vast network, which includes rescue groups for specific types of dogs.
“Hopefully we’ll get someone to say, ‘OK, I’ll take that golden retriever,’ ” she said. “So we’re really working together as a community.”

Corridor Rescue covers the cost of food, a crate and vet bills for dogs that are fostered through them. Dogs that aren’t immediately placed with a family or other rescue group go into boarding facilities until Corridor Rescue can find them a home. “Volunteers and myself go visit these dogs on a weekly basis, so it gives them more social interaction,” said Hoffman. “We bring treats, blankets, take them outside on walks and hug them a lot.” Hoffman relies heavily on private donations to keep the operation going. So far, the group has relocated more than 180 strays from the corridor.

“The most proud moments are when we take a dog that is in horrible condition and we bring it back to life,” said Hoffman.

Corridor Rescue not only saves lives but helps build families as well, like Joan McKinney and her adoptive dog, Lotto. Hoffman and her group rescued Lotto from the corridor in 2009.

Hoffman helped give Lotto the dog a home with Joan McKinney. “It’s truly a miracle, taking a dog like Lotto, in that bad a condition off the streets, and then putting him in a loving home with someone like Joan,” said Hoffman.”Lotto brings a lot of joy in my life. He’s the sweetest dog,” said McKinney. For Hoffman, the war will never be won until animal abandonment is extinct. “Animal rescue is what I will do for the rest of my life,” she said. “I’ll be … trying to save an animal from my rocking chair.”

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from cnn

27 thoughts on “Deborah Hoffman: Dog Advocate, CNN Hero Nominee

  1. Yay for Deborah and what she is doing to helps the pups!
    A bloggie furiend of mine found a “bait dog” in a parking lot in Houston that was abandoned like trash and near death. With the help and support of her bloggie furiends and others she is nursing “Shelby” back to health. It is good to know there are others like her who luv animals and will do what ever they can for them 🙂 They are heroes!

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  2. Thank you for doing such a tremendous job for these animals!! You are a hero for these dogs and for those passionate about animals in need!

    Bless you.

  3. God Bless you for your compassion, determination and strength! Thank you for helping those with no voice. It’s great to know there are still good people in this world who care for our four legged friends 🙂

  4. Debra: I want to help you! My ultimate goal and passion in life is saving abandoned and abused animals. I’ve rescued 2 dogs from kill shelters in Auburn, Alabama and have nursed them to health.

    If you can let me know how I can help out before I can have my own shelter, that would be a dream come true. I don’t just want to make donations… I would like to be active in the process of helping animals.

    Thanks and amazing work! You’re an angel.

    -Alex

  5. There is a special place in Heaven for people like Deborah. We should all be so determined to make a difference no matter where we find injustice!
    Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to do my part to help her and her wonderful cause!

    ♥ ♥ ♥ to Deborah and all those that help her!

  6. If there were just more people in the world like Deborah! Whether that passion is for animals, or children, people displaced by national disaster or something else. If everyone were able to follow their passion as fervently as she has, what a wonderful world we’d be in!

  7. Thank goodness for wonderful people like Deborah. Goodness knows we need them! Why can’t we all have a little of her mentality and humanity?

  8. I just read the article, didn’t watch the video. This woman is an angel. She has courage and compassion. She is inspiring. Thank you Deborah for giving me hope.

  9. Many fanks for givin Deborah additional coverage and props for the crucial and often heartbreakin dedication she has for the Mission of Rescue, here in Houston.

    She is a friend of a friend of a friend. And I will pass your link along, as I know she would be heartened by the words of support!

  10. God Bless you Deborah, I can’t imagine anyone driving by this and not taking action, thank god for you my dear.

  11. Deborah Hoffman you are my new HERO !!! thank you for all that you do. dogs bring love and joy to my life and I would be lost without them. when I worked for the S.P.C.A. we saved alot of special hard to adopt animals. they were the ones that melted my heart and they were the ones I really pushed to find loving familys. one by one we CAN make a difference !!! GOD LOVE YOU !!!!!

  12. Dear Deborah,

    Thank you ever so much for the kindness you are showing those dogs! The world needs more people like you. Please continue inspiring humananity with your beautiful acts of love and compassion towards such vulnerable beings. They need us! You are a true hero! Thank you! Merci!

    Greetings from Québec, Canada

    Diane

  13. I think what you are doing is wonderful… Please contact me. I want to donate my services for your cause, Regards, PAUL

  14. I would like to nominate Roxanne E. Dodds for CNN Hero Nominee. She has taken our town’s (Bunkie, LA) dog pound, cleaned it up, made sure the dogs are cleaned, fed, taken out twice a day to run around, cleaned the pens, given medicine, and much more. Most people in our town did not even know there was a pound until she stumbled on it and decided these animals needed human compassion and a chance to be adopted instead of automatically being put to sleep. She has adopted out many dogs and a few cats. She has spoken at many organizations and because of that has raised money and volunteers to help her. She has come a long way, but there is always a need for raising money to be able to care for these unfortunate animals. Our hats off to Roxanne for her compassion for all God’s creatures.

  15. Having seen this on CNN first, I delved further to learn more……
    this is something that I would have done also, almost wish we lived closer so that I too could go out and help physically. Living in Hawaii keeps me on this side – being too far to travel…please let me know how I can donate something to this beautiful woman for her cause?
    Aloha, may St. Francis of Assisi be watching. Karin

  16. Yay Deborah! She helped me with my adoption of my dog Peter. I cannot say enought great things about her. So glad she is being recognized!

  17. She is an amazing hero! Iv’e been an animal lover evar since I knew what a dog was. But I’m so glad Deborah is saving those dogs! But now I’m writing a essay about one hero to chose from. So I went ahead to chose her…

  18. THANK YOU, MY HERO BARBARA HOFFMAN!!!!!!!!!!!
    I cried when I watched this video, there is people here in Houston that are so cruel with dogs, leaving them in their yards in temperatures over 90 degress and in the rainy season all soaked and scared , those dogs crying for help, cruel people don’t understand that dogs are the most uncondicional beings and they want to be treated well, they give so much love and they are beings not trash!!!

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