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Toronto group heading to Houston to rescue dogs from overwhelmed shelters

LIAM CASEY, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 1st, 2017

Next week, a small team of Canadian volunteers will get into two vans, drive for two days to flood-ravaged Houston, pick up a group of rescue dogs from overwhelmed shelters, and head home.

Nicole Simone, who runs Redemption Dogs, an animal advocacy group based in Toronto, said four volunteers will leave the city next Wednesday to help an animal shelter in Houston that has seen an influx of canines after Hurricane Harvey hit the city.

The shelter needs to free up space and find homes for its animals because it keeps rescuing more and more dogs, she said.

“A lot of the rescues lost their property,” Simone said. “They’re all flooded out. They’re all overwhelmed.”

Simone has a friend who runs Hot Mess Pooches, a shelter in Houston, and has been following the organization’s efforts over the past few days. The shelter had to rescue 40 dogs on Wednesday alone, she said.

“It is really upsetting, so we thought we could help out, even in a small way,” Simone said.

Simone spoke to a friend in Toronto, who said he was willing to drive down to Houston, and then found two others who wanted to head down to the U.S. with her. She has also started an online fundraiser to help support the group’s efforts.

The Canadian volunteers will only be rescuing dogs that do not have owners, said Simone, who already has a handful of rescue organizations in Ontario lined up to take the dogs in and find foster homes for them until they are adopted.

Hurricane Harvey hit southern Texas last week and left large swaths covered in water. At least 31 people have died and emergency officials expect that number to climb in the coming days.

More than 1,000 homes in the state have been destroyed, close to 50,000 were damaged and over 32,000 people were in shelters. About 24,000 National Guard troops have been called in to help.

The situation is also dire for animals.

Rescue organizations from across the United States have mobilized to help deal with the fallout from the hurricane. Countless animals have escaped, have been abandoned or are strays that have been caught up in the flood.

The Humane Society of the United States is co-ordinating a massive effort to ship dogs out on planes to various parts of the country.

In many cases, people are bringing their furry friends with them as they evacuate. On Wednesday, more than 500 people took shelter at a bowling alley in nearby Beaumont, Texas, along with dozens of dogs, cats, a lizard and a monkey.

With files from the Associated Press

Rock balancer says goodbye to the CNE after 18 years

AUDRA BROWN | posted Friday, Sep 1st, 2017

As the saying goes, it’s all about having balance in life. Daryl Maddeaux has made it his life’s work, literally, to keep it that way.

The artist, who was discovered on a beach balancing rocks, shot to fame nearly 45 years ago.

His work has dazzled thousands of people every year at the Canadian National Exhibition. But after 18 seasons, Maddeaux will balance his last stone on the Labour Day long weekend.

The 65-year-old said he is retiring to spend more time with his family and grandchildren.

Maddeaux told CityNews after being on the road for 200 days a year, he is looking forward to what’s ahead.

But what is his secret for how he balances those rocks? Maddeaux said every stone has three points of contact to make them perfectly balanced.

Gas prices rise 5 cents at midnight, another 9-cent hike by Saturday

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Sep 1st, 2017

Drivers faced a staggering price hike at the gas pumps on Friday, but it is only expected to get worse over the long weekend.

Gas prices went up five cents at most GTA stations at midnight, to an average price of 123.9 cents/litre.

But the sticker shock won’t end there.

Roger McKnight, the chief petroleum analyst with En-Pro International Inc., said if the current trend continues, he foresees an increase of nine cents by Saturday, which would put the price at 132.9 cents/litre.

The last time gas prices touched this level was three years ago.

The hikes being attributed to the effects of Hurricane Harvey.

The storm has knocked out significant oil drilling and refining capacity in Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, and on Wednesday, the largest U.S. oil refinery shut down. The operator of a major pipeline carrying fuel to the East Coast said it was running at a reduced rate.

Colonial Pipeline says it plans to shut down a key line on Thursday. The company didn’t say how long it expects the closure to last, saying it will know more when workers can evaluate its facilities.

McKnight points out that the Colonial pipeline is responsible for sending refined products from the Gulf area north to Eastern Canada.

Related stories:

Two explosions rock flooded Houston-area chemical plant

Gasoline future prices jump in Harvey’s wake due to refinery disruptions

With files from The Associated Press

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