This painting was commissioned as a tribute to Robert Emery by Cheryl Lang, founder of No Paws Left Behind. Mr. Emery, a Hurricane Ike worker, died on a Houston freeway trying to save these three stranded dogs. See story update below.
Ike relief worker killed in dog rescue will be honored with a scholarship in his name
Dane Schiller, Houston Chronicle, October 16, 2008
A loner hailed as a hero by animal lovers after he died trying to rescue three dogs is to be cremated next week and memorialized with a veterinary paramedic scholarship at Houston Community College.
Robert "Bob" Emery, 54, who came here after Hurricane Ike to help clear storm debris, was killed the night of Sept. 27 after running onto the East Freeway to rescue three dogs trapped against the interstate's concrete median.
"Man, we can't leave them dogs to die," Emery's friends recalled him saying seconds before he dashed into the road and was hit by a passing motorcycle.
Animal control officers later returned the dogs to their owners, an elderly couple who had looked for them for days.
The story of how Emery died quickly spread on the Internet, as did word that he could be buried as a pauper if authorities didn't find any relatives for the man, who was estranged from his family.
About all that was known in the days after the accident was that Emery came here from Florida, where he'd recently been living in a run-down trailer on the beach in the Florida Keys.
Animal lovers vowed Emery would not be forgotten and offered money as well as flowers, a casket and even a burial plot.
Among those who took up his cause were Cheryl Lang, of the Houston nonprofit organization, No Paws Left Behind, and a Clear Lake-area resident, Kellye Nagata, who searched the Internet to ultimately locate a daughter who hadn't seen Emery since she was 5 years old.
"I am very saddened that I could not find him in life, but somehow he found me in death," Alaina Emery, 25, said earlier this month from Pittsburgh. "I wanted to hug him, to meet my son."
San Jacinto Memorial Park and Funeral Home, of Houston, donated its help, including a service set for Oct. 22 at 2 p.m.
Alaina Emery plans to attend the service, and her father's remains are to be sent back to Pittsburgh, where he grew up.
"It was an amazing story to me," said funeral director Stan James, who has four dogs. "I thought, 'We've got to do something for this man.' "
Contributions collected by Lang's organization to memorialize Emery will go toward a $2,000 annual scholarship at the Veterinary Paramedic program at Houston Community College Northwest in Katy.
"Besides helping the dogs, he is going to help students that could use a break in order to keep helping animals," said Pamela Huebner, director of the veterinary paramedic program.