Sunday, May 29, 2011

Joplin Missouri Tornado: Stray Dogs, Cats and More Find Shelter

Pomeranian found Friday. Photo: Amy Buckley.
Dogs, cats, rabbits, parakeets, cockatiels, more than 30 chickens and a pot-bellied pig – animals of all kinds have found shelter at the Joplin Humane Society following last Sunday’s deadly tornado.

Approximately 500 animals have been brought to the temporary shelter set up by ASPCA at the old Dent and Ding appliance next to the humane society’s new building. With close to 100 staff, volunteers and a temporary shelter set up by the ASPCA ,they can house up to 1,200 animals now and they plan to dispense donated pet food and supplies to those affected by the tornado.

Calls started rolling in early Monday and a temporary shelter was set up later that day, opening to the public Tuesday. Wednesday they took in nearly 250 animals. Many families have been reunited with their pets, but even if they cannot take their pets with them it is important to come down and identify them, Aquino said.

They will look at a 14-day window to identify the pets before moving to the adoption process and may reach out to local foster networks to help house the animals. Members of the Neosho-based Faithful Friends Animal Advocates say they’re ready to step in when the temporary operation rolls out, but that moment has not come yet said Kathryn Destreza, southeast regional director ASPCA Investigations and Response.

The shelter will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Organizers ask anyone who is sheltering a dog, but does not know it’s owner to bring them to the shelter so they can be reunified with their families. Pets are also being listed at Finding families for the stranded pets is why they are there, Destreza said.

“We love them and we walk them and we take great care of them, but we’re not their family,” she said. “This is all about reunification with the owner.”

Those reporting to the shelter are asked to bring as much identifying information as possible and a picture if possible.

Kathy McDonald was all smiles as she left the shelter Friday afternoon with her pit bull mix Sophia Marie in tow. She was not home when the storm struck, but a neighbor told her he’d seen Sophia headed toward 26th Street.

“I knew she was alive,” McDonald said.

On Thursday, she found her frightened kitten cowering under a piece of drywall. The six-pound cat had lost nearly two pounds.

“She’s still traumatized,” McDonald said.

Her search is not over yet.

“I’ve still got two kittens out there,” she said.

Tim Rickey, southeast regional director ASPCA Investigations and Respons,e once lived in the Joplin area.

“All of my family and my friends are here,” Rickey said. “I’m dealing with the same thing everybody else in this community is. We all know people affected by this.”

Getting animals back to their owners lifts their spirits and helps build the long-term community recovery, he said.

“This is a beacon of hope,” Rickey said.

What you can do:
Volunteers are needed to move supplies and clean cages. They can register at the Joplin Humane Society, but may be placed on a call list. Donations can be placed online at

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