JOPLIN, MO – A chocolate lab who washed into a storm drain lost all her toenails desperately trying to claw out from the rising water. Another dog is wandering the streets with deep lacerations from flying glass still embedded in her side. These are just two pets whose post-tornado circumstances have changed for the better this week, thanks to well-organized animal rescue organizations mobilized in Joplin.
Approximately 600 pets have been rescued following the tornado that devastated the Missouri town, which is said to be the biggest in the nation’s history.
With the help of the Joplin Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), more than 120 people have reunited with their four-legged family members.
Still, a larger percentage of pets remain unclaimed. But as word gets out that many animals survived the twister, more people are showing up for joyful reunions with their pets.
Lost pets are being brought to the Humane Society by the organization’s volunteers and citizens who are helping out. Rescued animals wait for their families in one of three donated warehouses, where they are given vaccines, medical attention, food and a secure place to sleep.
“If the guardians who are reunited can take them, they do. If they can’t, we’ll take care of them until they can,” said Karen Aquino, head of the Joplin Humane Society.
“Very few families are choosing to relinquish their pets,” Aquino told Global Animal. “They are sometimes all they have left.”
The ASPCA showed up in force in Joplin following the disaster to aid in rescue, feeding and medical care of animals victimized by the tornado. The organization has committed to staying at least a month. The ASPCA is looking at implementing a 14-day window for people to identify their pets before moving to the adoption process; they are also considering reaching out to local foster networks to help house rescued pets.
This week, Global Animal Foundation gave $2,500 to the Joplin Humane Society on behalf of readers who donated to animal rescue in the Deep South. The Humane Society’s Karen Aquino said the donations from Global Animal readers will be allocated to medical supplies, vaccines, and free veterinarian care for Joplin’s lost and injured pets.
— Arthur Jeon, Global Animal