Earlier this month, Global Animal Foundation sent $2,000 to organizations working on the ground in Oklahoma to help animals in need following the devastating May tornadoes.

After the Central Oklahoma Humane Society (OK Humane) took in a total of 142 animals displaced by the tornadoes, we distributed $1,500 for their grand efforts. The support has helped the organization care for and house animals displaced by the storms as well as work to reunite pets with their families. And so far, OK Humane has reunited over 80 of these pets with their families.

We also donated an additional $500 to Horse Feathers Equine Rescue in Guthrie, Oklahoma to help assist with transportation, feed, and medical supplies for animals in need, particularly horses.

After seeing the staggering devastation, multiple out-of-state organizations have also sprung into action. While the Oklahoma City Animal Care and Control Center (OKCACC) almost reached capacity after the devastation, many of the animals already in shelters faced risk of euthanasia to make room for pets who had gone missing since the storms. And in some cases, the animals’ five-day hold period was being diminished to make room for the storm victims.

The Tri-County The Tri-County Humane Society arrives in Oklahoma to pick up shelter dogs and make room for displaced pets. Photo Credit: Tri-County Humane Society, Facebook
The Tri-County Humane Society arrives in Oklahoma to pick up shelter dogs and make room for displaced pets. Photo Credit: Tri-County Humane Society, Facebook

In coordination with Animal Care and Control, volunteers from no-kill shelters across the country personally drove hundreds of miles to take in pets who had already been surrendered to Animal Care & Control, or abandoned, thus freeing up shelter space for displaced pets and giving the pre-existing shelter animals a second chance at life.

In the week following the mile-wide tornado that ripped through Central Oklahoma on May 20, officials with the Tri County Humane Society (TCHS), a no-kill shelter in Boca Raton, Florida made room for 80 pets at their facility and sent five staff members in two vans on the 2,800-mile round-trip to Oklahoma.

Assistant Director Amanda Chussler said the group has traveled to transport animals in the past, including after Hurricane Katrina, but this is the farthest they have ever traveled.

The staff left for Oklahoma on Saturday, May 25 and made five stops to shelters including Pauls Valley Animal Control, Cherokee County Humane Society, City of Midwest City Animal Welfare, and Guthrie Animal Shelter.

“We took 65 dogs and 15 cats, animals that were already there, not lost ones,” Chussler told WPBF 25 News. “We just went to make space for the found animals…When we made space for them, they were able to house animals found on the streets.”

“Large and small, we took them all,” said Janice Olson, Director of Development.

Unfortunately, many of the animals taken in were injured and/or affected by a heavy infestation of fleas and ticks as well as upper respiratory infections. In addition, many had contracted demodex mange, being the main reason many of the animals were slated to be put down in Oklahoma shelters. 

However, many of these injuries and previously unaddressed maladies are costly and require a major commitment, which was not a possibility for OKCACC.

“We have the opportunity to quarantine and treat them,” said Olson. “Our Shelter has the space and capacity to treat this treatable affliction.”

Thanks to your generous donations, the TCHS is responding with treatment for these various injuries and pre-existing ailments, while providing proper vaccination, special prescription food, spaying/neutering services, dental work, and assistance with behavioral problem, as necessary.

Animals are clearing quarantine every day, and are sometimes adopted just hours later.

According to Olson, 62 animals were adopted as of last Saturday, which is one more than the total animals adopted in the month of May.

“Our lobbies have been packed,” said Olson, who also claims the shelter’s adoption rates have increased by 30 to 45 percent since transporting the Oklahoma pets.

The TCHS’s rescue efforts are also helping promote adoption for other animals already at their facility, including Chuy, a nine-year-old half-bind Chihuahua who had been at the shelter since last February.

“We never expected to have so many animals adopted so quickly. Usually it takes quite a while but the community has wrapped themselves around and everyone comes in and they want an Oklahoma dog,” said Executive Director Suzi Goldsmith.

“We appreciate the wide-spread support we’ve received from the community, but we recognize that a certain percentage of these rescued pets will be residents of our shelter for a prolonged period. Any funds raised above what is immediately needed will go towards their continued care,” said Olson.

Oklahoma dogs arriving at PAWS Chicago's Adoption Center. Photo Credit: PAWS Chicago, Facebook
Oklahoma dogs arriving at PAWS Chicago’s Adoption Center. Photo Credit: PAWS Chicago, Facebook

PAWS Chicago, the largest no-kill humane organization in Chicago, also journeyed to Oklahoma to help relieve the OKCACC of their animals who were in the shelter prior to the tornadoes, or were directly turned in by their guardians who could no longer care for them given the devastating effects of the storms.

A team of 10 volunteers along with an additional three people on intake and medical traveled the approximate 12 hours to Oklahoma in eight vans and transported 76 pets total—25 cats and 51 dogs.

The animals arrived at PAWS Chicago’s Rescue & Recovery Center from Oklahoma on Saturday, May 25, and were given complete medical care, proper vaccinations, microchips, and were also spayed/neutered. Many of the rescue pets were available for adoption by the following Monday.

With over 350 volunteers helping out in Chicago and after a weekend of extensive media coverage, adopters lined up outside PAWS Chicago’s Lincoln Park Adoption Center, where a total of 69 animals were adopted on the Memorial Day holiday—with 29 of whom rescued from Oklahoma.

According to Executive Director Rochelle Michalek, well over 45 Oklahoma rescues have been adopted thus far, and the ones who haven’t been adopted are first being spayed/neutered and/or treated for medical conditions including heartworm, skin allergies, as well as upper respiratory conditions such as pneumonia.

“We really appreciate the donations it really does help with the animal care,” said Michalek.

“We have seen that our community responds in times of crisis,” said Paula Fasseas, Founder and Chair of PAWS Chicago. “When we saw the images of the tornado aftermath in Oklahoma, we wanted to do something to help.  Our volunteers, supporters and the media have been so supportive of our rescue efforts, enabling us to save more for homeless animals and do something positive for a community that has been so devastated.”

All pets victimized by the tornadoes have remained at the Oklahoma City shelter for almost 30 days to give their families a chance to reunite with them. PAWS Chicago is making a return trip to Oklahoma this Friday, June 28, to take in unclaimed or unwanted pets displaced from the storms.

With over 800 pets being held in a space that usually holds no more than 400 animals, the Oklahoma shelters are over-capacity and are struggling to provide proper care and space for all the pets flooding their facilities. Because these animals have not been claimed and their time at the shelter is up, they face the risk of being euthanized.

“We feel compelled to help in times of national disasters, and the tornadoes in Oklahoma were devastating to so many people and animals,” said Fasseas. “Now time is up for these homeless pets and PAWS Chicago is their last hope. By bringing them to our Chicago adoption program, we can save them and bring something positive to a community that has been through so much.”

While sick or injured pets will receive extensive care and time to recover in a loving foster home, many of the incoming rescues will be available for adoption on Monday, July 1 at PAWS Chicago’s Lincoln Park Adoption Center.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Global Animal Foundation continues to accept donations to help animals affected by the Oklahoma tornadoes. With countless animals left unclaimed and in need of care, these disaster relief programs still need your help.

Without the help of concerned Global Animals, these organizations are unable to make such a strong difference and help these animals affected by natural disasters. Thank you once again, Global Animal readers! Your compassion in action and support of Global Animal Foundation is saving the lives of animals in crisis.

Related Articles:

Faithful Dog Guards Tornado Victim’s Body

Mourning Mom Adopts Pups After Oklahoma Tornado

Oklahoma’s Toto: Miracle Dog Survives Tornado

Calm After The Storm: Therapy Dogs Comfort Tornado Victims (GALLERY)