Samantha Ellis, Global Animal
In the aftermath of the May 22 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, 7,000 homes were destroyed, one-third of the city’s 50,000 residents were left homeless, and about 900 pets have been separated from their families. In the midst of these staggering numbers, the Joplin Humane Society has been working hard to care for the animals brought to them.
The organization has converted two vacant warehouses next to the shelter into air-conditioned kennels to accommodate all the additional animals, and a gravel parking lot has been turned into a waiting room where animal caretakers can look through binders full of pictures of unclaimed pets.
The Joplin Humane Society is determined to find homes for each pet. Ever since the disaster last month, the Joplin Humane Society has been doing everything in its power to find the animals’ families. They’ve put public service announcements on radio and TV, hung posters at food collection and distribution points, put up 250 yard signs, and placed ads in the newspaper. Despite all these efforts there are still hundreds of pets that have not been reunited with their caretakers.
On June 25-26 the shelter plans to hold an “Adopt-a-thon” where pets that are still unclaimed will be spayed and neutered then given away free to good homes. If any animals are not adopted, the Joplin Humane Society will find other rescue organizations to take them to bigger cities where the pets have a better chance of being adopted.
The Joplin Humane Society will not euthanize any of the pets left homeless by the tornado, in keeping with the ultimate goal of Joplin Humane Society’s Executive Director Karen Aquino. It has been Aquino’s goal to take the kill rate of the shelter from 75-80%, when she first started two years ago, down to zero percent. In just one year Aquino destroyed the inhumane and outdated gas chamber, and has reduced kill rates to 20%.
“At Joplin Humane Society, we do everything in our power to get the animals out alive and in just two years that number has gone down to less than 20%,” Aquino told us. “Still WAY too high but we can’t do it without the help of rescues and other shelters.”
Aquino said the next step in stopping the killing is opening the low-cost spay and neuter clinic that originally was to open this month. They had to postpone the clinic’s opening due to the tornado.
“From experience, I know that affordable, accessible spaying and neutering will make a huge impact,” She said.